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Titans to upgrade stadium by 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans want to spend $25 million on new speakers, high-definition videoboards and elevators upgrading LP Field with most renovations completed by the start of the 2012 season.

The Titans announced their proposal Wednesday during a news conference at the publicly owned stadium. Though these are tough economic times, Don MacLachlan, executive vice president of administration and facilities, said the team put in a lot of work planning renovations that would improve the in-game experience for fans.

"We average over a million people coming through those turnstiles every year, and we want to make sure we're doing everything in our power with the economy the way it is and the way that fans use their discretionary dollars that they'll continue to come to LP Field because we have some state of the art upgrades going on in areas they're seeing other stadiums have, yet it will improve their experience here at any event throughout the year," MacLachlan said.

"It's important for LP Field to be up to the standards of other NFL stadiums and what they've done around the country."

The stadium cost $292 million when it opened in 1999 built through a combination of local and state money along with personal seat license fees, and MacLachlan said some items were stripped from the stadium to stay on budget. That includes a total of 12 elevators, six on either side of the stadium, that can move 11,000 fans in an hour from ground level to the upper deck.

The plan must be approved by the Metro Davidson City Council and local sports authority because the Titans rent the stadium and take care of maintenance. The Titans hope to have the plan approved by mid-December to start construction in January, working around any soccer games and the CMA Music Festival in June.

The plan would be paid for by a $2 per ticket user fee put into place two years ago as allowed by the original stadium agreement. The Titans also want to raise that fee to the $3 maximum allowed to help pay for long-term improvements, such as replacing the current seats.

"The most important thing is the enhancement to the fans' experience for any event coming to LP Field, and the fact the users are going to be paying for this, not the taxpayers," Maclachlan said.

Other improvements include about 800 speakers scattered around the stadium, which currently has a bank of speakers in one end zone. MacLachlan said they have had fan complaints that those below the speakers are going deaf while those in the other end zone can't hear officials or the public address announcer. The stadium also hosts the annual country music festival each June along with international soccer games and other concerts.

With 3D and high-definition televisions putting viewers at home close to the action, the renovations would replace the videoboards at each end zone with high-definition videoboards bigger than what the stadium features and that fans have been demanding. The videoboards would fit inside the current scoreboards, and video ribbons would be installed between the club and upper levels, giving more space for those fantasy stat updates and scores from other games.

"We want to do everything we can in-stadium to make sure that we're enhancing the fans' experience so that they are seeing the game in high definition and that we are getting all the fantasy stats current," MacLachlan said.

The Titans also want to turn areas of the stadium currently being used as storage into hospitality areas with a glass wall allowing fans to look across the Cumberland River at downtown along with two courtyard areas featuring concessions for those with no access to the club level.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said the city has three concerns that are all being met with the proposal. Those include the stadium being maintained well enough that Nashville can compete to host top events with taxpayers not having to foot the bill. Dean mentioned most of the Titans' ticket buyers and those attending the CMA Music Festival live outside Davidson County.

"This thing is a good thing for the city of Nashville, a good thing for this building and a good thing for the future of other events in our city," Dean said.