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Update: New ETSU football stadium concept approved by State Building Commission

Rex Barber • Jul 30, 2013 at 7:20 AM

An $18 million football stadium project for East Tennessee State University was approved Thursday by the Tennessee State Building Commission, according to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; however, any funding the state may provide still needs to be included in a future budget.

The SBC, of which Ramsey is chairman, met Thursday to consider numerous projects.

“I’m so proud to have football coming back to the East Tennessee State University,” he said. “College is first and foremost about academics but a full and complete college experience is crucial to attracting top top-quality students to the university.

“The return of football to the ETSU campus will enrich university life in so many ways. But the first step to building a great football program is building a high-quality facility. I’m excited that the commission has approved this outstanding project.”

Earlier this year approval was given by the Tennessee Board of Regents for a new football program to be started at ETSU.

“We appreciate the support of Lieutenant Governor Ramsey,” said Joe Smith, ETSU executive assistant to the president for university relations/chief communications officer. “This action will allow us to begin the design process, which will include appointing a designer and evaluating possible locations for the stadium.”

The first phase of the stadium will be funded entirely from student fees. The fee was approved by the university Student Government Association in January.

According to TBR documents, $7.5 million of the $18 million project will be funded by student fees.

SBC just approved a concept for the funding of the project. The commission also approved the hiring of an architect and designer to come up with a plan.

Ramsey said now $10.5 million -$11 million must be secured to go with that $7.5 million from students.

“And that’ll be my next project; to make sure we can come up with that money,” he said. “I’d say some of it’ll be through private fundraising and some through some state funds to make sure this happens.”

His goal is to have some state funding for the stadium in next year’s budget. Ramsey did say that using state funding for an athletic facility was going somewhat against precedent.

“But this was so important because we want to get this designed,” he said. “This’ll take months if not a year almost to get that done. So, we’ll at least have something to show for fundraising, to show for the state building commission to come back and ask for funding.”

The proposed East Tennessee State University football stadium will seat approximately 10,000 spectators.

The first phase of the project includes infrastructure, a playing field, limited seating and support areas.

Part of the process for building a new stadium will be selecting a viable location on campus.

Some areas of campus that have been mentioned as possible stadium sites include:

- 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 story:

New ETSU football stadium could be approved Thursday in Nashville

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