Current Neyland Stadium renovations nearing an end

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- She's 89 years, and in a few days, she will have never looked better.

"Looks gorgeous," says University of Tennessee parking attendant Fred Galbreath when asked about the on-going renovation project of Neyland Stadium

"Architecturally speaking, it has nice brick work and a nice entrance. The designs are fantastic. The brick is nice," Galbreath continued.

The brick, all 680,000 of them, have given Neyland Stadium a whole new look. Much of the brick is part of the stadium's new "grand entrance" outside gate 21.

Chris Fuller, associate athletic director at the UT, says the idea for the brick-design was influenced by other stadiums, as well as what's already seen on the Tennessee campus.

" We were influenced by what our architecture here is on campus and what we wanted the look of the exterior of the stadium to be. We believe it gives a great traditional collegiate feel," says Fuller.

When fans make their way to Neyland Stadium, they will also notice a new plaza at Gate 21, as well as large murals of former Vol legends, such as General Neyland and Reggie White.

"We think we have people that really represent our history and tradition and were popular with our fans. People will have a hard time arguing those that we chose, but there's always someone that can argue those that we didn't," said Fuller.

A text messaging system is also part of this Neyland Stadium makeover. If a fan encounters a problem, he can text VOLS (space) the issue and location of the incident to 69050. The fan will then receive an automatic reply message acknowledging receipt of the message.

Fuller says it's all about fan safety. "The number of medical transports that we have on a hot September day, dehydration, a loss child, this is just a more effective way for us to communicate quickly."

A twice the life size statue of General Neyland is also part of the project. The statue will be completed later this fall.

This current phase of construction costs roughly 22 million dollars. The athletic department says this renovation phase will be complete before the Vols kick off the season September 4 against UT-Martin.

Once finished, it'll be two years before the next phase of stadium renovations begin.

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