University of Memphis AD: Delay in Stadium Renovations Could Cost School Millions

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University of Memphis athletic director Laird Veatch said Thursday that a construction delay in the planned renovations to Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium could cost the school millions. 

Speaking on the 92.9 ESPN radio show "Giannotto and Jeffrey," with Commercial Appeal columnist Mark Giannotto and Jeffrey Wright, Veatch said any delays to the renovations, which are due to begin in about three months, would be costly. 

"When we talk about the importance of moving forward and getting this project done and how construction costs can increase, etc., a delay has multiple implications," Veatch said, according to Commercial Appeal, "Even if it's a month or two delay, that could mean that we cannot complete it before the (2025) season, from our perspective. So that then means that it could either be two seasons where you have a partial stadium, or you have to wait a full year before you start construction."

According to Commercial Appeal: 

The city has $350 million from the state to use on various stadium improvement projects, but has not yet allocated the money. In September, The Commercial Appeal first reported on a framework proposed by then-Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland that would provide nearly $500 million to renovate FedExForum and $220 million for Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium.

The proposal did not include money for planned renovations to AutoZone Park, where the Memphis Redbirds and Memphis 901 FC play, or a new soccer stadium for Memphis 901 FC at the site of the shuttered Mid-South Coliseum.

The city of Memphis has $350 million from the state to use on various stadium improvement projects, but the money has yet to be allocated. School officials have been vocal about pushing for the allocations to be made so they can begin renovations on the stadium after the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Dec. 29. 

"I was pleased to see that city council completed a resolution earlier in the week," Veatch said. "It's really important that this stadium thing moves forward and remains on track. The thing that I've struggled with really since (University President Bill Hardgrave) and I came out very vocally in support of this and tried to help push it forward is it's become sort of an either or scenario between the stadium and the FedExForum. And candidly it needs to be both. If we want to be a place, a city that can support both a professional franchise and a big-time college sports team or program, we need to be able to invest in both and have those kind of venues."

Mayor-elect Paul Young said he is committed to both projects. 

“We must keep the Memphis Grizzlies. And, in order for our college to reach our maximum potential, we need to be in a bigger conference," Young said, echoing sentiments expressed by outgoing Mayor Jim Strickland on Tuesday. “We’re going to work with the Grizz, University of Memphis and the stakeholders to figure out how to get both projects executed."

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