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ETSU football: Where would the new stadium be built?

Rex Barber • Feb 8, 2013 at 9:23 PM

A consultant will be hired to study the best place, hopefully on East Tennessee State University’s campus, to build a new football stadium, should a program be approved by the Tennessee Board of Regents, the school’s president said Friday.

ETSU President Brian Noland said a meeting was held last week to discuss potential locations on campus for a football stadium.

“Part of the issue that complicates that conversation is the water challenges we have on the back side of campus,” Noland said.

A portion of campus was flooded during a heavy rainstorm in August. This flooding actually happens during most periods of heavy rain. The near-10 inches of rain that fell in Johnson City during January resulted in standing water on the soccer and practice fields on the far west end of campus, which is one location where there is sufficient room to put a stadium.

“So the places on campus that automatically seem the most suitable for a location of a football stadium are problematic because of water issues,” Noland said.

Because of this it was decided to hire a consultant to look at the best place on campus to put a football stadium.

This firm would be hired if the TBR approves the $125 athletic fee ETSU’s Student Government Association approved two weeks ago to establish a football team.

For now, Noland said his administration is compiling all the numbers, figures and information related to a football program to present that to the Regents in March.

The sites that have been discussed for an on-campus stadium include the following:

- the school parking area located roughly behind Knight’s Sports Bar on West State of Franklin Road;

- the parking lot between Warf-Pickle Hall and the parking garage that is currently being built, where the tennis courts used to be;

- a location out near the soccer fields on the west end of campus, where flooding is a concern;

- land where the facilities plant is now located on the southwest section of campus, though that plan would require the removal and relocation of the facilities building; and

- a location near Buccaneer Ridge Apartments but that does not have much room for parking.

“So we’re kind of looking at those places on campus where there is ample acreage to build a stadium that provides opportunities for expansion of the stadium 20, 30 years from now, not tying the hands of the future administration,” Noland said. “And if after review of the parcels of property that are on campus, if we come to the determination that none of these work then we’ll look at option B which is something off campus. But it is our extreme desire to find a location that works on the campus of East Tennessee State University.”

Noland thinks one of those sites will work, though.

“The question is which one of those sites has the proper mix of costs associated with site preparation (and) avoidance of the water issues that plague the back half of campus,” he said.

Locating a football stadium on campus would be integral in building a sense of community on campus, Noland said.

Noland envisioned students waking up on game day and walking from their dorms to the stadium.

“A lot of this ties back into building a sense of community, building a sense of place and creating a culture around the institution that facilitates engagement, that facilitates students remaining on campus throughout the week, weekend, but it’s building that culture of engagement on campus,” he said. “It’s hard to build a sense of community when you’ve got to travel great distances to get to the event.”

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