The roar of Tennessee State University football fans will soon fill the school's on-campus venue, Hale Stadium, once again. A major renovation will bring the team back to its home turf for a few games this season, and officials gave Channel 4 a sneak peak at the improvements Tuesday.
The football games are returning to campus just in time for TSU to celebrate its centennial this school year. But it took nearly $1 million to get the stadium, nicknamed "The Hole," back in shape.
The brick ROTC building was the first thing to be demolished back in December.
Then, cracks were filled and boards replaced in the stands, which are now starting to show off the TSU pride.
"We have painted the concrete. Instead of the drab old concrete, they are snowbound white. The reserved section is all blue now, so we've added some color, which I think most of the people will be happy to see," said project manager George Herring.
After 14 years spent playing at cavernous LP Field, the team will be back for three games this fall, beginning Sept. 15 against Austin Peay.
Jerrold McCrae was a Tiger wide receiver in the 1970s before heading off to the NFL and said he hopes to bring back the intimacy of an on-campus gameday crowd.
"They were our peers. The ones we were in the classroom with. The same ones we ate at the Sub with everyday. Just hearing them call your name and hearing the band, the Aristocrats. And just that and the hype of the whole activity was fantastic," McCrae said.
The renovation also added 4,000 extra seats, and head coach Rod Reed, a TSU alumnus from the 1980s, said the spirit of The Hole may be the charm for this year's Tigers.
"I played at TSU for four years, and we lost one game in The Hole. So it is a tough atmosphere to play in. Like I said, it does hold a certain mystique, and we are trying to instill that into these young guys we have now," Reed said.
Finishing touches to the renovation project include an electronic scoreboard, a high definition video screen, murals and an inflatable Tiger for the team to run through as it enters the field.
Schools officials said the stadium will also be used for various high school games and concerts throughout the year. To track the construction progress, visit: http://www.facebook.com/Tennessee.State.University
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