Updated: July 25, 2013
Vanderbilt's planned survey to obtain feedback from its football fans to help shape decisions about a possible renovation of Vanderbilt Stadium has been moved back from the announced July timeline to early September.
"This survey is important to us and while we are eager to get the information as soon as possible, we were reminded that most responses to such surveys come in the first 24-48 hours of receipt, and summer months are busy vacation months," Vice Chancellor and Athletic Director David Williams said. "We want all the input we can get and it became apparent that we would have a higher rate of response after the school year begins and after fans have been to a game to be reminded of the current experience."
Athletics had previously announced a survey of a wide variety of alumni, donors, ticket holders, former student-athletes and others to gauge interest in an enhanced fan experience through a possible renovation of Vanderbilt Stadium, also known as Dudley Field.
The survey is an exploratory step as part of a wider strategic plan being undertaken by the university to look at the entire undergraduate experience and enhance the overall Vanderbilt community.
"This survey will be an important element as we pull together facts to determine the potential resources we might have as we consider renovations to our stadium," Williams said. "We will need as much feedback as possible to help us make sound decisions regarding the future state of the stadium. We are hoping fans will return the survey as promptly as possible."
Williams emphasized that conducting the survey is only one step in determining whether the stadium renovation will take place. If the survey results indicate support for renovation, the proposal would be taken to the Board of Trust for its review and action. He also stressed that should the board approve the project, it would be funded by corporate naming, revenues from premium seating and philanthropy and no university funds would be used."
Improvements to Vanderbilt Stadium have been the subject of sports talk for years. The stadium has largely stood untouched since a complete renovation took place in 1981 to the old facility, which was originally built on the same site in 1922 and dubbed "the largest stadium in the south" at the time.
"The stadium is not just about football six or seven Saturdays a year," Williams said. "We would hope it could become a greater resource for the community, whether that means hosting more high school games, concerts or special events. Revenue realized from an improved stadium would bolster the department's financial footing and could allow us to contribute to other areas of the university."
Among priority items on a renovations wish list would be wider, modern concourses that would feature more restrooms, convenient concessions and souvenir areas. The survey will be able to determine fan interest in priority seating areas such as club sections and suites. Other universities have experienced a jump in attendance with improved facilities, sometimes with as much as one-third the season ticket base coming from new ticket buyers.
"Vanderbilt Athletics has experienced unprecedented success in recent years," Williams said, "and that success has been credited in no small part to the key facility enhancements that have benefitted the university's 340 student-athletes and have helped attract not only fans but also elite high school student-athletes."
The survey will be conducted by CSL, a company that specializes in such studies on both the collegiate and professional levels.