UofM and City of Memphis Panel Explains Liberty Stadium Renovation Project

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – At the Billy J. Murphy Athletic Complex at the University of Memphis, UofM Director of Athletics Laird Veatch, UofM President Dr. Bill Hardgrave and Mayor of the City of Memphis , Jim Strickland, formed a panel to discuss Simmons’ announced renovation project. Bank Liberty Stadium, known as the Liberty Bowl.

“It will be an investment in the university and the city of Memphis for generations to come,” Veatch said during his opening remarks.

This renovation will, in part, make UofM a major contender for future NCAA conference realignments.

UofM was not chosen to be part of the Big12 expansion in 2021, losing to other AAC competitors like the University of Houston (UH) and the University of Central Florida (UCF ).

“(The renovation) puts us in a position where we’re really competitive,” Veatch said. “Part of it is just being around and seeing the other facilities. We…had the opportunity to see all the Big12 stadiums and other stadiums around the country, and this is the kind of stadium that looks like it belongs to this club.

Veatch explained that the university initially considered having a stadium on campus, understanding the appeal it brings to a campus culture.

It was determined during an independent study that UofM would be able to secure $200 million in funding for a new stadium, and university leaders turned to Canvas Stadium at Colorado State University: built in 2017, a capacity of 41,000 and a price tag of $238 million. .

The idea was to opt for something similar with a capacity of around 38,000 to 44,000 people, but the study showed that their financing capacities would not affect the total cost of the project.

With construction costs rising, nowadays it would take $400 million to build the type of stadium on the UofM campus, according to Veatch, and that cost did not factor in the acquisition of additional land. and surrounding infrastructure such as parking.

Renovating Liberty Stadium was the only logical solution, with a price tag of around $150-200 million.

Capacity will be around 50,000, according to Veatch, and renderings, by architectural firm Populous, show top-notch seating options, additional family boxes and even what have been called “bridges.” party” for students.

For events outside of football, the new stadium, along with the nearby Liberty Park development with its soon-to-be-built neighborhood of restaurants, hotels and apartments, will provide an attractive location for stadium concert tours.

“If you’re my age, you remember when bands would come and set up on the grounds,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said. “That can’t happen now, so part of this renovation is opening up the north side of the stadium so we can hold a concert there.”

“We will do a detailed design of it through a construction tender process,” Veatch said. “This is a blueprint vision, and we need to ferret out all those kinds of details with professionals who will help guide us.”

According to Veatch, the process of finding a construction company, coming up with an exact design and price, and determining a start and end date will take 12 to 18 months.

As of now, the plan is to begin construction after the 2023 college football season and complete the renovation by the start of the 2025 season.

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Abdul J. Gaspar