Tony Vitello has Tennessee atop the college baseball world, waking up a sleeping giant in just a few short years. Tennessee baseball was an afterthought for most before Vitello arrived, now it’s one of the hottest sports tickets in the southeast this spring.
There’s just one issue — Lindsey Nelson Stadium isn’t quite up to par with the rest of the SEC. Tennessee’s baseball facility needs an upgrade, and that’s been one of the primary objectives for Danny White over the last calendar year. White was able to lock up Vitello with a new deal, likely committing plenty of future capital into facility upgrades down the road.
Last week, we got a glimpse of those upgrades for the very first time. Tennessee released several concepts and potential features of the new facility, including potential extended seating on the left field line, a table-top area, loge box seating and plenty more club seats.
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Capacity for Lindsey Nelson currently sits at just over 4,200. White said this week on Knoxville radio that the new capacity could be somewhere between 6,500-8,000, with room to go beyond that with standing room only areas.
“Philosophically, I’d like to have a set amount of seats that is appropriate for us that works well for us,” White said on 99.1 The Sports Animal. “Not only on big weekend games, but also midweek games and earlier in the season — but then having a ton of standing-room, social-deck opportunities where we can really swell, maybe by as much as even a couple thousand, where our capacity is significantly larger than the number of seats, so that we can have bigger crowds for big games like this upcoming weekend.”
White says he’s hopeful to have the project done in time for the 2024 season, but wouldn’t commit to an official timeline.
“I don’t know the answer to that right now,” White continued. “The earliest I think we could break ground would be following the ‘23 season, and I say that because it’s going to take the better part of a year to design, and we can’t start that design process ‘til the project is fully approved by the state in July. So I don’t see a scenario where we’re breaking ground before the end of the ‘23 season.”
Tennessee, the No. 1 team in the nation, will take on Notre Dame this weekend in the super regionals looking for a spot in the College World Series. The University has once again announced a viewing party for those who can’t get in the gates of Lindsey Nelson. Maybe in the future, that additional block party won’t be necessary with the expanded capacity.