As promised, Neyland Stadium’s newest renovations will keep the capacity at more than 100,000 for the 2022 season.
Neyland’s new capacity will be 101,915, a University of Tennessee source confirmed to GoVols247 on Thursday afternoon. Mike Wilson of The Knoxville News Sentinel first reported the news earlier in the afternoon.
Tennessee’s historic football cathedral — the Vols’ home since 1921 — has had a six-figure capacity since 1995, and at times it’s been the largest stadium in the country. That’s no longer the case, but it’s still ranked near the top of the list, and every renovation since then has come with a promise to keep Tennessee’s historic home above the 100,000 threshold.
Neyland Stadium has had an official capacity of 102,455, where it had been since the Tennessee Terrace was added in 2010. The addition of East Club and West Club seating in 2006 and 2009 temporarily reduced capacity to 100,011.
The apex of Neyland’s official capacity was reached in 2000, when the addition of the East Executive Suites brought the official number to 104,037. That era included the largest official attendance in history, when 109,061 packed The General’s House for Tennessee’s thrilling 30-28 over SEC Eastern Division rival Florida.
An SEC arms race for facility amenities has remained ubiquitous, though, and Tennessee’s newest Neyland renovations were started as soon as last season ended. A series of renovations was officially approved in 2017, and tweaks have been made throughout the process, including when Danny White took the athletic director’s position in January 2021.
The current phase of Neyland renovations has focused on the lowest west level and north end zone of the riverside stadium. It includes a “premium experience” area on the lowest west side of the stadium, directly behind Tennessee’s bench. A long-desired video board is also being added to the north end zone of the stadium, and there will be a new standing room only section underneath it. That standing room only section has been described as “party deck” with the feel of a sports bar.
UT’s current plan is for the revenue generated from the new west club and north end zone areas to fund the remaining upgrades for the stadium in future years. The current phase of the renovations have cost approximately $180 million for a project that’s expected to cost approximately $340 million.
“By the time we’re done with this pretty massive renovation, we want to have one of, if not the best, stadium in college football,” White told Sports Business Journal earlier this year. “That means thinking proactively about the future and modern fan experience. And in less exciting ways, it means fixing some stuff and renovating some stuff that’s really outdated.”
Tennessee wasn’t able to host its annual Orange & White Game this spring because of the construction at Neyland. The Vols considered playing their annual spring scrimmage in Nashville or Chattanooga but ultimately chose to have one at their practice complex — Anderson Training Center and Haslam Field.
A $30 million renovation for Anderson Training Center has started, as well, and the plan is to add several impressive new features to what was already considered one of the nation’s better training facilities. An additional 36,000 square feet of space and renovations to 100,000 square feet of existing space will increase the center’s size to approximately 181,000 square feet.