Amidst an increasingly competitive baseball facility landscape in the SEC, there are signs that Tennessee could look to upgrade Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Lindsey Nelson Stadium originally opened in 1993, and has received some improvements over the years. A plan unveiled in 2006 called for four phases of upgrades to the ballpark, but only two of those– which were mostly focused on player facilities–were completed. Some proposed fan amenities from that concept, including new luxury suites and an entrance plaza, remain uncompleted.
That, combined with a wave of new ballparks and renovations to existing facilities around the SEC, has prompted some concern that Lindsey Nelson Stadium is preventing Tennessee from being competitive with rival programs. However, athletic director Phillip Fulmer recently indicated that he will look to address the condition of Lindsey Nelson Stadium, likely by completing a renovation rather than constructing a new ballpark. More from the Times Free Press:
Athletic director Phillip Fulmer suggested on the Big Orange Caravan tour last week that he plans for the 26-year-old stadium to receive a significant upgrade during his time as athletic director.
“Some people are doing a 50-million-dollar stadium here,” Fulmer said. “We’re not doing that. Don’t even go there. But we’re going to do something that helps our baseball coach.”…
Though Lindsey Nelson Stadium would rank among the best stadiums in many conferences, there is little question it needs to be modernized to keep pace in the SEC.
“I pushed them all: ‘What do you need to be in the SEC hunt?'” Fulmer said of his conversations with Tennessee’s coaches. “If you’re not winning it, why aren’t you? And how do we get there? I’ve got to back up what I say. Our baseball coach needs some help with our facility.”
There has certainly been a push in recent years among SEC baseball programs to upgrade their baseball facilities. Florida and Kentucky both have brand-new ballparks in the works, while Mississippi State is in the midst of a large-scale renovation to Dudy Noble Field. Another project that heightened expectations for SEC facilities debuted for the 2016 season, when Alabama returned to Sewell-Thomas Stadium after a major renovation.