KINGSPORT, Tenn. — The Kentucky Wildcats broke ground on a new baseball stadium in March, leaving Tennessee as the SEC school going the longest since making upgrades to its home park.
Lindsey Nelson Stadium, last renovated in 2010, won’t be getting much of a facelift anytime in the future, either.
New Tennessee athletic director John Currie said Tuesday he has no “concrete plans” for making further improvements to the 24-year-old stadium before he spoke to a crowded Big Orange Caravan stop at the Kingsport Farmer’s Market in the heart of downtown Kingsport.
“Lindsey Nelson Stadium has served us very well for a long time,” Currie said. “Since when? 1992 was the original construction of that facility, again an example of Tennessee getting way out ahead of the curve and over time, as someone asked earlier, people catch you.
“The challenge in the Southeastern Conference is whether it’s coaches’ salaries or program budgets or whatever, those 14 are going to be among the top 25 in college athletics.”
Currie believes while the stadium may be falling behind in the SEC, it still has plenty to offer the players to set Tennessee apart from the rest of the country.
“The great advantage we have in Lindsey Nelson Stadium is we have great player practice and development areas,” Currie said. “We have a great locker room area, [former Tennessee star] Chris Burke helped fund a wonderful film room at one point. We are one of the only schools that has its own strength and conditioning facility that is dedicated to baseball.
“Down the right-field line, we have six or seven batting cages for our student-athletes to use 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In terms of player development, we do have some advantages to Lindsey Nelson Stadium.”
Currie hired a new baseball coach in Tony Vitello in June in the hopes of possibly reviving the passion around the baseball team.
“What we got to do is exactly what Coach Vitello is doing right now on the recruiting trail,” Currie said. “We got to generate a little bit more enthusiasm and win some ball games.”