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New ETSU football stadium could be approved Thursday in Nashville

Rex Barber • Jul 30, 2013 at 7:21 AM

A proposal for a new $18 million East Tennessee State University football stadium will likely be approved Thursday by the State Building Commission, according to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.

Ramsey heads the commission and said Wednesday that the stadium has been put on “the fast track.”

Members of the Tennessee Board of Regents, the governing body of ETSU, approved earlier this year the university imposing a new $125 athletic fee each semester for students to help fund a new football program. This fee was approved by the university Student Government Association in January.

Student fees will pay for around $7 million of the cost and Ramsey said the state wold be paying around $11 million.

ETSU fielded a football team until the end of the 2003 season. The football program was canceled due to financial reasons.

After the fee was approved by TBR, ETSU moved quickly, hiring Carl Torbush as head coach just weeks ago.

Ramsey said there may be one year the new ETSU football team does not play in the new stadium but he would like for the team to be able to play there by 2015, which has been the earliest estimate for the university to field players.

The State Building Commission must approve any state building projects.

Ramsey said Thursday's agenda is extremely full, which is common for July meetings because new budgets take effect July 1 each year. Because the agenda was so full, it was suggested the ETSU stadium be delayed for consideration until next month.

But Ramsey, being head of the commission, the lieutenant governor and an ETSU graduate, said that it would remain on this month’s agenda.

“And so I’ll push it as hard as I can and hopefully we’re going to have the design in place and know exactly how much funding we need by the time we approve the budget next year,” he said.” That’s very aggressive and very optimistic, but I’m going to try my best to make sure that is the case...”

He expects the proposal to pass unanimously.

“We won’t have any problem,” he said. “I’ve kind of greased the skids and talked to people on the building commission and they know where I am on this.”

While no plans have yet been developed, Ramsey said the stadium would seat between 10,000 to 12,000 spectators.

“And I want something nice, you know, with some brick and steel... so it looks nice,” he said. “Not aluminum bleachers, that’s not what I want. And I want to make sure if we can that it’ll be on campus.”

If approved Thursday, the process of selecting a designer for the stadium, and a firm to select a location and the securing of needed funds can begin.

The $18 million price is an estimate based on other recently-built stadiums of roughly the same seating capacity.

“That’s where we’ll be shooting to stay within that figure,” Ramsey said.

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.

Related articles:

ETSU football: Where would the new stadium be built?

Torbush to lead new Bucs football team

The return of ETSU football

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