Two Middle Tennessee State University Concrete Industry Management program alumni are playing prominent roles in the Tennessee Builders Alliance team constructing the NFL Tennessee Titans’ new $2.1 billion Nissan Stadium.
Already in the prime of their careers, Reggie Polk, CEO and co-founder of Brentwood, Tennessee-based Polk & Associates Construction Inc., and Paul Lawson, vice president and general manager of Nashville, Tennessee-based Turner Construction, saw their work elevated to a higher level with the Metropolitan Sports Authority’s approval and Titans’ subsequent August announcement.
Joining Polk & Associates, and Turner in the titanic build will be Nashville-based ICF Builders and Nashville-based AECOM Hunt — a four-team team driving force with 55-plus years of NFL stadium construction experience and lengthy history of building iconic sports facilities. Polk & Associates is co-owned by Polk and his wife, MTSU alumna Tanora Polk.
“We’re going to divide and conquer on the project, in terms of executing the project and getting it built for the Titans,” said Reggie Polk (Class of 2003), who said the four companies will come together as construction managers on the massive project. “We have to get this thing built on time and within budget, so there’s a lot of manpower that’s going to be needed to do that.”
Born and raised in Murfreesboro, Lawson (’06) said Turner Construction is “excited about the partnership with the Titans and really just excited about what the Titans are going to do to impact the community as a whole with this project.” He added that the Titans wanted “local and diverse minority businesses. It’s something they implemented and I’m excited about that.”
Their CIM program degrees are housed in MTSU’s School of Concrete and Construction Management.
With assistance from associate professor Tom Gormley, Polk, his wife, daughter Zakiyah Polk and Lawson visited campus earlier this semester — but this time in the elaborate, 1-year-old, $40.1 million, 54,000-square-foot School of Concrete and Construction Management Building, about six times larger than when their CIM program classes and labs were in the Voorhies Engineering Technology Building.
Greeting them on the visit were Tom Nicholas, first-year School of Concrete and Construction Management director; Greg Van Patten, College of Basic and Applied Sciences dean; Jon Huddleston, Concrete Industry Management program director; and Gormley and other faculty and staff.
“Our goal (as a college) is to bring people into executive positions within industry. Paul and Reggie are examples of that,” Van Patten said.
Nicholas said Polk and Lawson are “leading the construction field and leading the construction industry. I can’t tell you how proud we are of them to call them alumni of MTSU and the School of Concrete and Construction Management.”
Huddleston added that the alumni duo “set a phenomenal example for our students.”
Admitting he is a “proud alumnus,” Polk said “the program has poured so much into me in terms of who I am,” adding that he has seen “a lot of great things faculty and leadership have done.”
“I love coming back and sharing our story and really inspiring our students,” he said.
A former MTSU Blue Raider football player, Polk serves on the MTSU construction program’s board and periodically returns to listen to the students’ capstone projects “and give great feedback in terms of what it’s really like in the real world and serving in the industry.”
With solid family ties to MTSU — his parents, Nita and Rick Lawson, and sister, Lauren Rich, all graduated from the university — Paul Lawson said current students will discover their careers will be in “a relationship-driven industry, honing in those skills and growing their network.”
Groundbreaking for the anticipated 60,000-seat stadium is expected to occur in early-to-mid 2024, with an anticipated opening in 2027.
The 1.7 million-square-foot stadium, being built on Nashville’s East Bank, will feature a nonretractable dome, 12,000-square-foot community events space, exterior terraces and porches, some with large screens that face green space surrounding the building, panoramic views of the city and more.
It is expected to be a venue for numerous other premier events, entertainment and civic events.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)