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Weekend edition May 19, 2023 | Shannon Smith

Hotel, entertainment district planned around Neyland Stadium

The university’s initial concept for the project includes a boutique, full-service hotel with for-sale condominiums and conference/event space.

To get to a game at Neyland Stadium, you probably park in a parking garage and walk over. What if that parking garage was next to a hotel that was next to the stadium and had an entire retail and entertainment district on top?

That’s what the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) and UT Athletics leadership is planning right now.

Anchored by a planned hotel adjacent to the stadium’s south end, the mixed-use Neyland Entertainment District could uniquely enhance the Tennessee football gameday experience while also transforming the campus riverfront and supplementing Knoxville’s array of gathering centers with yet another attractive leisure and entertainment hub.

“Innovation is at the forefront of everything we do,” said UTK Athletics Director Danny White. “The ideation of this new Neyland Entertainment District exemplifies that mindset. This is a massive project that has the potential to positively impact our entire city. We’re eager to see what world-class developers dream up to creatively maximize this extraordinary market opportunity. We have the capacity for constructing an entertainment ecosystem that doesn’t presently exist anywhere across the collegiate landscape.

One of the unique elements of the Neyland Entertainment District is the connectivity and proximity to two of Tennessee’s iconic venues – Neyland Stadium and Thompson-Boling Arena. The proposed Neyland Entertainment District location allows the ability to service and tie the two facilities together.

The university’s initial concept for the project—which would improve the aesthetics of Neyland Stadium’s exterior façade and strengthen the campus’s connection with the Tennessee River—includes a boutique, full-service hotel with for-sale condominiums and conference/event space. The vision also features the potential development of a “tabletop” above the existing G10 parking garage to support additional tailgating, restaurants, retail, and family-friendly entertainment activities.

“Neyland Stadium has always been known for having one of the best gameday environments in college football. We love to welcome Vol Nation to campus on Saturdays in the fall. This project has the potential to create a year-round destination that engages the Tennessee River waterfront and enhances the campus and our community,” said UTK Chancellor Donde Plowman.

White and Plowman have initiated the exploration of a public-private partnership to create this district. Public-private partnerships are a mechanism for the government to procure and implement public infrastructure and/or services using the resources and expertise of the private sector. Examples of similar sports entertainment districts using these types of partnerships are Wrigleyville in Chicago and The Battery in Atlanta, both surrounding professional baseball stadiums.

This public-private partnership opportunity will enhance the look and atmosphere of Neyland Stadium and the Knoxville campus while creating an additional destination for the city of Knoxville, all without state funding,” said UT System President Randy Boyd.

UTK has issued a Request for Information (RFI), which will be open and available for four weeks. After that period of time, the RFI results will help inform a Request for Proposal (RFP) for interested parties to continue the process of design and construction of the Neyland Entertainment District.

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