In today's NFL, it's all about keeping up with the Joneses. The Jerry Joneses.
With the idea of keeping LP Field a "first-class facility," the Tennessee Titans unveiled Wednesday $25 million to upgrade the 13-year-old stadium.
The upgrades — funded by Metro Sports Authority-issued, city-backed bonds paid for via the proceeds from the two-year-old, $2 per seat user fee — will include new high-definition video screens and ribbon boards, a distributed speaker system, two elevator banks to service the upper deck, and the conversion of indoor and outdoor storage areas as fan entertainment zones. The Titans hope to start work at the conclusion of the current season, pending the necessary approvals.
Metro currently sets aside $1 million annually for capital improvements to LP Field, with the $2 user fee put in a separate account for longer-term projects. Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling said that fund generates $1.9 million annually and has a balance of roughly $3.5 million.
Titans Vice President Don MacLachlan said the team will ask Metro to increase the seat-user fee to $3 by August 2013. The increased fee will be reflected in ticket prices. MacLachlan said as other NFL stadia have improved — or been built — since the Titans took residence on the East Bank, it's important for the city's facility to keep up.
"We agreed [in 1998] to make an effort to stay on par with these facilities," he said.
Specifically, the sound system will provided balanced audio to all parts of the stadium. Currently, all audio is broadcast from a system in the south end zone — a segment of LP Field MacLachlan described as "too dog-gone loud."
The video screens on the scoreboards will have a higher picture quality and be four times larger than the current screen. The fan hospitality areas will provide meeting and entertainment space for fans and for sponsors.
In addition, the elevator banks — two sets of six on each side of the stadium's north side — will be able to move 11,000 people from the ground level to the upper deck in an hour, MacLachlan said.
Titans, Metro and Sports Authority officials will begin the approval process with a work session next Thursday, when Riebeling said specific details about the financing will be discussed.
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