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Fans say upgrading stadiums for both Tigers and Grizzlies is best thing for Memphis

Sports fans are debating which Memphis team takes priority in the $350 million renovations of FedExForum and Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Another season of University of Memphis football means another year of fans flocking to Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, a sports arena that is in line for big time upgrades thanks to $350 million from the state of Tennessee, which will be used to upgrade all Memphis stadiums.  

“It's overdue,” said Jack Nichols, a 30-year fan of the Tigers. “I think they've done a lot with what they've already had. Tiger Lane is really beautiful. But this next renovation should really help out a lot: help with the conference, help with the recruitment, and bring in more fans.”

Phil Glass, president of the Highland Hundred University of Memphis Football Booster Club, said upgrading the stadium could help Memphis Athletics take the next step. 

“If you look at successful collegiate programs, football has been the driving revenue factor, and you can’t ignore that,” he said. 

Carl Edmondson, who’s son Bryce plays outside linebacker for the Tigers, loves the potential for improved player safety. 

“As a parent, you want nothing but the best for your child and (I would love) a state of the art facility with maybe synthetic grass or braided turf,” Edmondson said.  

But the city has yet to decide how much of the $350 million each stadium will get. 

On Monday, Memphis athletic director Laird Veatch said the program is facing a “moment of truth” during head coach Ryan Silverfield’s radio show, as they make their case for how the state money will be spent. 

In 2022, the school announced plans to make $150 to $200 million in stadium renovations, which wouldn’t leave much for the Memphis Grizzlies and FedExForum. 

Long-time Memphis sports columnist Geoff Calkins wrote a piece for the Daily Memphian saying, "The challenge before the city is to get this right, isn't it? For all parties involved? The city shouldn't rush a partial solution because the university has proclaimed it to be a 'moment of truth.'"

The Tiger fans ABC24 talked with agreed.  

“Both programs are vital to Memphis,” Glass said. “There's so many things nationally that put Memphis in a negative atmosphere, but the Grizzlies, the University of Memphis … we are some of the positives.”

Any changes made to the stadium would come after the 2023 season and are expected to be finished by 2025. 

“Go Tigers, go Grizzlies,” Glass said. “Let’s make it happen.” 

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