The Vandy United Fund has already committed $200 million, including $100 million from the university, $90 million from anonymous donors and another $10 million from John R. Ingram, board member and principal owner of Nashville’s MLS team.
Chancellor Daniel Diermeier said at a press conference that the Vandy United Fund is the largest event of its kind in Vanderbilt sports history.
This is a bold step, he said, but it is only the beginning of a long journey.
Candice Lee, athletics director, said the initial work will focus on infrastructure for Vanderbilt athletes to improve their daily experience.
More will follow as part of this larger plan, Lee said.
The first investment will be in football and basketball.
Football will benefit from improved meeting rooms, offices, a gym and expanded locker rooms, as well as a fully covered practice field adjacent to the outdoor practice fields. The basketball department will have dedicated practice facilities for both the women’s and men’s teams, and there will be improvements to the weight room, locker rooms and offices.
Vanderbilt hired Clark Lea as its new football coach in December. Lee said they had made it clear at the time what updates were planned for football and that Lea agreed with that approach.
He was very pleased with what he saw, Lee said.
In November 2013, Vanderbilt opened an indoor soccer training facility that is also used for other sports. Lee said they had seen firsthand how difficult it was to get players and equipment out of football offices and back inside when a storm forced people to storm in last weekend.
The sketches of the first phase will be published this summer. Construction for football and basketball is expected to begin at the end of the 2021 football season.
The McGugin Center, which houses the athletics offices, is also being renovated to create a new athletic performance center that will benefit all teams.
Vanderbilt Stadium, the smallest football stadium in the Southeastern Conference, was last renovated in 1981. For now, Vanderbilt plans to enhance the fan experience with premium seating, hospitality areas, more food and beverage options and other amenities for fans.
Diermeier said conversations he and Lee had with Vanderbilt alumni and former athletes made it clear they were concerned about how committed they really were to continuing their conversations about improving athletics.
There is no if, that or what, it has to happen first, Dirmeyer said. We are committed to this. We’ll do it.
Vanderbilt has hired Populous as chief architect, and Lee said the broader pattern of upcoming improvements will eventually affect all sports.
Part of the paradigm shift here is that Vanderbilt in the past sometimes felt like it was limping along, Lee said. It is very important for us to act in all respects as a founding member of the SEC.
The Chancellor stated that each project will have a purpose.
There will be no frivolities, Dearmeyer said.
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