Commission voted 18-6 to authorize $100,000 annually in support

The Putnam County Commission voted overwhelmingly to commit $2 million toward the construction of Tennessee Tech University’s rebuilt football stadium at the commission’s Feb. 20 meeting.

The commission voted 18-6 to authorize $100,000 annually in support of the stadium over 20 years, marking supermajority support on the county’s legislative body.

Tech previously announced plans to completely rebuild the west side of Tucker Stadium, home of Tech’s Golden Eagle football team since 1966, to offer new amenities, suites and upgraded seating, among other improvements. Demolition is slated to begin this spring with construction on the new stadium set to follow in the fall.

Likewise, Tech is constructing a state-of-the-art, 40,000-square foot football operations center complete with a new locker room and meeting rooms, players’ lounge, theater-style auditorium, sports medicine center and turf practice field, underscoring Tech’s commitment to its student athletes.

Commissioners vocally expressed their support for the new stadium and its projected impact on the Upper Cumberland economy.

Tennessee Tech is our school,” said District 3 Commissioner David Gentry during the meeting. “Any kind of improvement they make would be good for this community.”

“We get a lot of opportunities to make decisions about spending money, but this is the first time since I’ve been on the commission that we have a chance to make a real investment,” added District 5 Commissioner Vinnie Faccinto before the vote. “I think we would be very short sighted to turn it down myself.”

Tech President Phil Oldham thanked the County Commission for its strong vote of confidence.

“Tennessee Tech University values our enduring partnership with our county and city officials who work every day to make this a welcoming and vibrant community for our students, faculty, staff, guests and their families,” said President Oldham. “Budgetary choices are seldom easy, and we know this was no exception. We appreciate the commission’s recognition of the importance of first-rate athletic venues to a strong university and the importance of a strong university to a healthy community and growing local economy.”

Oldham continued, “This stadium has always been about more than just playing ball. It’s about the future of Tech, the future of the Upper Cumberland and investing in spaces that boost our region’s competitive edge and give our surrounding communities an exciting new place to gather.”

As a leading economic driver for the region, Tech’s economic impact on the Upper Cumberland alone topped $860 million in the last non-pandemic year, according to the university’s annual footprint analysis.

In remarks to commissioners, President Oldham noted that a new football stadium can further stimulate the local economy by positioning Tech – and, by extension, Putnam County – to host TSSAA Blue Cross Bowl games, conferences and live entertainment events that are currently out of reach in the existing facility.

The commission’s supermajority support for Tech’s new stadium marks just the latest surge of momentum for the university’s NCAA Division I athletics program since the hire of head coach Bobby Wilder last December.

Most recently, the university announced a $1 million pledge to Tech athletics from alumni and board of trustees members Fred Lowery and Tom Jones, $500,000 of which will directly support the new stadium.

“It’s a great time to be a Tennessee Tech Golden Eagle,” concluded Tech Athletic Director Mark Wilson. “Under the leadership of Coach Wilder, and with support from our county and local partners, football is ascendant at Tennessee Tech University. Our student athletes have always been a cut above – having just recorded their 30th straight semester with a 3.0 or better GPA – and now we’re giving them the tools to once again bring home championship titles right here to Putnam County.”

Learn more about Tennessee Tech athletics at www.ttusports.com.

Photo courtesy of Tech.

Other stories you may want to check out:

Submit your story ideas to the Upper Cumberland Business Journal! via email.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.