Following a groundbreaking ceremony last November, construction on a new home field for the Buccaneer football team is underway.
“Things are progressing nicely; we’re very excited about where we are,” said Senior Associate Athletic Director and COO Scott Carter. “We’re obviously just in the infancy of getting the construction started, but there’s a lot to be done.”
The new stadium, which will be located in the southwest corner of campus near the Basler CPA, will hold over 10,000 people and have 4,000 parking spots around it. It will be an open air stadium with an artificial turf field.
“Really, in the last week to ten days, there’s been a great deal of activity that’s taken place,” said Carter.
Progress on the new stadium is expected to go quickly this semester. The construction is being managed by Burwil Construction, the same company that built the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy building on campus.
“I think you’ll start to see a lot of land improvements.” said Carter. “I think you’ll start seeing a lot of heavy machinery, heavy iron out there. Obviously we live in East Tennessee; there’s a lot of hills, and you can’t play football on a space of land that’s not flat.”
The construction has blocked off Parking Lot 18 near the site. Students should expect Parking Lot 19 to be closed in March.
While it can be difficult to get a good look at the construction, the beginnings of the activity Carter mentioned can be seen.
“Months and months down the road, you’ll start seeing the stands and the bowl start to take form.” said Carter. “Ultimately, into next year, a tower will be formed, and the seats will be placed, and the main gates of entry.”
Stadium construction is being divided into two phases. The stadium will be fully operational at the completion of phase one. Other improvements, such as additional seats and larger concession areas, are being saved for phase two.
“What you’re seeing now is the beginning work of phase one, and phase one is scheduled to be complete in the fall of 2017.” said Carter. “Then, as funding and time allow us to progress, we would move into phase two and hopefully get this thing exactly how we want it.”
The team played at Kermit Tipton Stadium at Science Hill High School for its first return season and will continue to play there next season. The 2017 season will be the first time the Bucs will play at the new stadium.
“We’ve been very fortunate to get our program started again [and] to play in a quality facility like [Kermit Tipton Stadium],” said Carter.”That’s given us a chance to have capacity enough to engage our students, fan base and season ticket holders.”
Carter hopes that by building the stadium on campus, the support from the students will create a real home field advantage.
“What we want to do by moving on campus,” Carter said, “is create a wonderful environment that is on our campus, that really accentuates the camaraderie of campus, the tailgating environment and the beauty of East Tennessee.”