I wouldn't want endzone stadium seats. They are nearly 100 yards from the football field. Hope they get some Cowboys Stadium-sized screens in for this one.
Yesterday, officials from Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Bristol Motor Speedway announced that on September 10th, 2016, the Volunteers and Hokies will meet halfway between their two campuses at the celebrated NASCAR facility.
Such a gridiron matchup between the two schools has been discussed for years, but only now has a contract been signed. Plans to quickly convert the track from a racing facility (in August of 2016) to a football facility (in September of 2016) have already been put to paper.
And the hype has already very much begun:
The so-called “Battle at Bristol” is being promoted as the biggest college football game ever. With 150,000 expected to attend, it should easily become the best-attended college football game in history (the current record is about 115,000).
The game will also bring in a nice chunk of money for both schools. The Knoxville News Sentinel (paywall) nabbed the contract between UT and the folks in Bristol and found that the teams could make between four and five million dollars by playing in the game.
But new Tennessee coach Butch Jones isn’t having to wait until 2016 to reap the rewards of this deal. He’s already getting exactly what he wants and needs: publicity. The Volunteers are a surprising #2 nationally in Rivals.com’s current recruiting rankings. We have the Vols listed as #3 in the SEC in our latest commitment comparator. Obviously, Jones has already created quite a bit of momentum for a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2009.
Now he’s got the national media helping his spread the word about Tennessee’s “big” game to recruits:
ESPN’s NASCAR broadcaster Dr. Jerry Punch even weighed in on the event last evening while speaking in Mobile, Alabama:
“You’ve got to believe what a huge recruiting tool this will be. I know both those schools already had wallpaper printed up with the logo on it — ‘Biggest Ever.’ So when the recruits walk in, they walk by that wallpaper and all they’ve got to say is, ‘Hey, you want to be a part of the biggest game in college football history, you come here.’ That’s pretty cool if you’re a kid. You say, ‘You know what? You want to play in front of 150,000 people? It ain’t going to happen anywhere else. It ain’t going to happen at USC or Texas or Oklahoma or Notre Dame or Michigan. It’s going to happen right here.’ So it’s a great recruiting tool for both sides.”
As Punch also pointed out, no other NASCAR track is laid out quite like Bristol Motor Speedway… which is why no other NASCAR facility will likely be able to surpass the venue in ticket sales. That means Tennessee and Virginia Tech should set and hold onto the attendance record for a while.
And that also means that Jones has a pretty good recruiting tool to use a full three years before the game will even be played.