MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - After a conference championship, trip to the Cotton Bowl and with a new head coach, the Memphis fan base is fired up about the Tigers. The Liberty Bowl can seat just under 60,000 fans, however, it’s likely it will only be half full this fall.
Without a full stadium, there will be a significant financial hit to the athletic department.
“I don’t want to pretend it’s not,” Memphis Athletics Director Laird Veatch said. “We’re going to have, if things play out like we’re currently projecting, it’ll be a 7-figure impact to the negative for the department. That’s one of the things we’re really going to have to put our heads around and determine how to manage appropriately."
However, the number of fans in the stands doesn’t affect Laird Veatch’s expectations for the product on the football field.
“I had a good friend that used to say yesterday’s records are tomorrow’s expectations and I think we all need to believe that and embrace that,” he stressed. “We have a tremendous opportunity here at Memphis to establish consistent Top 25 programs.”
Memphis will pack in as many fans as possible both in football, with almost all of last year’s Cotton Bowl team returning, and basketball under head coach Penny Hardaway.
“We want those kind of high expectations and we want to continue to support and act and work toward that type of expectation,” Veatch said.
The department will continue finalizing plans on how Tiger Lane will operate and how many fans can tailgate before kickoff.