TSU plans to move football back to campus in 2012

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 11:23pm

Tennessee State football is coming back to Hale Stadium — at least for a portion of the 2012 season.

The Tigers will play two football games, possibly three, on campus for the first time since 1998 in conjunction with the school’s centennial celebration despite it current 30-year agreement with the Metro Sports Authority to play its home games at LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans and four miles away from campus.

TSU athletics director Teresa Phillips said on Wednesday that the Metro Sports Authority has given the school permission to play at least two games in 2012. TSU also received approval from the State Building Commission and the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Office of Facilities Development to move forward.

“We have not made a commitment past 2012 at this time,” Phillips said. “We are in the planning stages of how to move forward with some improvements in order to prepare to play ... 2012 will hopefully give us a feel for the commitment of our alumni and our fans, as well as our students.”

Phillips said homecoming and the John Merritt Classic, which have averaged more than 20,000 fans in recent years, will stay at LP Field next season. The Tigers are in the process of filling open dates for the 2012 schedule, which features five home games. Phillips said the two — or three games — at Hale would most likely be against Ohio Valley Conference opponents.

The decision comes a month after an overwhelming majority of students, staff, alumni and community members voted in favor of returning to Hale. Votes were open to the public and cost $10, raising money toward student scholarships. A total of $6,124 was raised with 588 votes in favor and 24 against.

To play football at the 58-year-old Hale next year, renovations would cost more than $1 million, which the university has saved through internal funds.

Immediate renovations would include power washing and painting, tearing down the old ROTC building at the main entrance, adding temporary restrooms and concessions stands along with adding up to 4,000 grandstand seats.
 Hale Stadium, which the football team uses for practices, currently seats 12,000.

Eventually, TSU administrators want the capacity to reach 27,000, which would cost about $27 million, according to Ron Brooks, TSU’s associate vice president for facilities management. But a timeline has not been set for that expansion and would depend on internal and external funds.

“As they said in the old days, you have to crawl before you walk,” interim president Portia Shields said. “The [$1 million] will be well spent. It looks terrible. It is an eye sore and it is unsafe.”

While playing at an NFL stadium is an enormous recruiting tool the reality is TSU can’t replicate an NFL-type atmosphere at LP Field. Homecoming and the John Merritt Classic are big draws but during conference games, no more than 8,000 regularly spill into the stadium.

Still, Phillips said if the Tigers move back to Hale permanently, the financial support would need to be overwhelming. 

“You always want to play on campus,” Phillips said. “But we have great relationships with the Titans and LP Field. My main concern is, as we move forward [past 2012]… is ensuring that we have a facility that we can recruit to and that our student-athletes will have the amenities that they need to have in order for us to build the program we’re trying to build.”

14 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 12/15/11 at 5:36

Phillips stated" the finanicial support suppoprt needs to be overwhelming"!
The urge to vote was high but the amount raised, some $6,000. is barely
enough to buy some paint. There is hope but no real evidence that after
spending all that would be required attendance at Hale would be any
higher than the current 8,000 for average games!

By: fdanshep on 12/15/11 at 7:16

I can see the million bucks to spruce up "The Hole" in order to play a few games a year; but $27,000,000?!! I suspect that state and local governments will say that with a NFL Statium at your disposal there are a lot more prudent ways to spend your hard fought funds.

By: rldavenport@com... on 12/15/11 at 8:04

TSU has actually saved money? Be still, my heart!

By: Jughead on 12/15/11 at 8:40

Most TSU students attend on government grant that are never repaid. It's a form of PC welfare.

Hoe Joe Sixpack enjoys funding baby-mama to attend black culture classes before dropping out to have more babies and collect more welfare.

By: Nitzche on 12/15/11 at 8:50

Da could play in da gym, nobodys comes anyways...pitifull tsu bless our heart, weze alumae proud

By: NewYorker1 on 12/15/11 at 10:35

Jughead, if I were near you right now, I'd probably fight you with box cutters in my hands. You racist SOB.

By: spooky24 on 12/15/11 at 11:23

Unfortunately, for all involved, jughead is right about on thing. Graduation rates at TSU is a dismal 46%..It seems that the university has decided that the football program and politics among the administration is more important that the numerous government funded flunk outs. Also, and very suspiciously, the rate jumped from 32% to present 46% without reveling the data to prove it.
As always the money spent is politically motivated and really has nothing to do with the students that are trying to improve themselves. The graduation for females is somewhat better but still too low at 62%.
How can you justify spending this money on a very old stadium-you can't it's just business as usual and one of the reasons this country is hopeless broke. Politics trumps logic.


By: Rasputin72 on 12/15/11 at 12:56

Tennessee State seldom does anything that represents fiscal responsibility. In this case moving 2 or 3 games away from the Titans stadium benefits other people other people other than themselves.

By: Rasputin72 on 12/15/11 at 12:59

Jughead is obviously an intuned intellectual. The underclass just hates it when their facade is removed. They want the productive masses to think they are a persecuted struggling minority.

By: T-BONE on 12/15/11 at 2:31

Did they "run this through "the BUD" and the Texass money making off of Nashville machine?

By: Jughead on 12/15/11 at 2:41

@NewYorker1: You'd "probably" fight me? With box cutters? Sorry, libtard--you'd lose. I HCP'd up after one of best friends was robbed in the TSU hood COMING HOME FROM WORK. Hope your box cutters can stop 7 rounds of 9mm ammo. Racist--hell no. Realist. Now go scream to the ACLU or some other libtard who acts like they care.

By: bfra on 12/15/11 at 3:39

NewYorker1 = Why would you want to fight Jughead, for telling the truth & box cutters, no less, that's low class.

By: NewYorker1 on 12/15/11 at 5:48

Jughead, when they made your 9mm and seven rounds, they didn't stop making them. I got that too, BUT when I come with mine, you wont know the hour or the minute.

By: Rasputin72 on 12/15/11 at 8:28

I love the rapport between New Yorker1 and Jughead. I