Preparing Neyland Stadium For Football

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Knoxville (WVLT) -- Getting Neyland Stadium ready for the season is a huge undertaking, especially when over the off season there were several renovations and the addition of a new food vendor.

We were at footballs third largest stadium yesterday as crews finalized everything for the season home opener.

As you might have guessed, getting Neyland ready for more than a 102,000 fans takes a lot of effort, especially the first home game.

"You're reloading everything," said Tiffany Carpenter, head of public relations for University of Tennessee athletics. "You're reloading everything because it's been sitting idle for several months. Day one is definitely the worst'

There is also plenty of cleaning and putting enough water on the field to keep it green.

One of the biggest off season renovation projects was putting in new signs around the stadium.

Doing that meant a lot of seats had to be removed.

"As soon as the scaffolding comes down this afternoon they'll start putting in seatbacks and then it will be done," Carpenter said.

The other big off season project was bringing in a new food vendor.

"We started full blown on July 9th and we've had over 6,000 man hours," said Todd Boyd, general manager of Sodexho Sports and Leisure.

Sodexho brings with them a whole new menu, made up of more than just hot dogs and burgers.

"We will have buffalo style chicken sandwiches and boneless wings, hand tossed to order with your choice of Frank's Buffalo sauce or Cattleman's BBQ sauce," Boyd said.

There are also a few grilling stations around the stadium that would make you think you're at the fair.

"The grill standing behind us, we're going with the Elm Hills Cheddarwurst sausage with grilled onions and peppers," Boyd said.

The only thing you won't have at Neyland Stadium this year is an after snack smoke.

That's because the legislature passed a smoking ban in the stadium.

"Have that last smoke before you walk in, because it's going to be a while before you get your next smoke," Carpenter said.

Even with a lot to do the stadium will be ready for kickoff.

"We've been hustling and it's going to come to the wire but hopefully we'll be done today," Boyd said.

There will be more busy years ahead due to construction.

The stadium is undergoing a $100 million renovation project in five stages.

Carpenter says phase two of the 10 to 12 year project begins right after the Vandy game at the end of the season.

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