ETSU board to announce football stadium name on Thursday

Joe Avento • Updated Aug 22, 2017 at 4:33 PM

Thursday will be a big day for everyone associated with East Tennessee State University’s new football stadium.

The school’s Board of Trustees has called a special meeting, after which the name of the new facility is expected to be announced.

The meeting, scheduled for Thursday at 3:30 p.m., will be held in the President’s Conference Room on the second floor of Burgin Dossett Hall and is open to the public.

Later that day, at 7 p.m., the team is expected to get its first taste of the stadium in the final preseason scrimmage. The location for the scrimmage hasn’t been officially announced yet, but the hope is to use the new stadium once the team gets the go-ahead.

“It’s a beautiful place and we’re hoping to get in there soon,” ETSU coach Carl Torbush said after a recent practice. “We need to get in there and get used to playing there. We don’t want that first game to feel like a road game.”

The stadium, which cost $25.8 million to build, has 7,694 seats with room to expand. The total capacity is close to 10,000, counting standing-room and a grass berm area.

The facility, built by Bur Wil Construction of Bristol on the site of a former parking lot, includes a state-of-the art video board, which measures 25 feet by 45 feet.

The stadium began to become a reality in November 2015 with a groundbreaking ceremony. Benefactor Scott Niswonger, who had donated $1 million to the stadium effort during the team’s spring game, drove a backhoe during the ceremony. Niswonger is chairman of the ETSU Board of Trustees.

Construction began in January 2016 and has been on schedule since. The facility is undergoing finishing touches in preparation of the Sept. 2 opener against Limestone College.

The team practices on two fields in the shadows of the construction site, so the players and coaches have been able to see the progress since the start.

“I drive by it every day and every time there's something new to it, it kind of brings a tear to my eyes," said ETSU defensive coordinator Billy Taylor, who played for the Bucs and coached here before the program was dropped in 2003. "It's kind of like icing on the cake for the football program.

“I think that's the way God intended football to be played, especially in a beautiful area like East Tennessee. We have the mountains behind it. It's going to be picturesque on an October afternoon with the leaves changing. I loved playing and coaching in the Dome, but it just has a different atmosphere. This is like college football is supposed to be.”

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