Watching sports in Knoxville means one thing: the University of Tennessee Volunteers. Knoxville is the epicenter of Big Orange country and this is a city that is serious about sports. UT is a member of the competitive Southeastern Conference.
UT’s biggest spectator sport is football. Neyland Stadium, home of the football team, is awash with bright orange on game days. Named for Gen. Robert Neyland, head coach of the UT football team from 1926 to 1952, Neyland Stadium has a capacity of just over 100,000. Most home games sell out.
The regular college football season runs from September to November. Single tickets go on sale in late July or early August for the upcoming fall season, and cost between $40 and $70. You can buy tickets from the UT box office (1600 Phillip Fulmer Way, 865/656-1200, www.utsports.com). On game days, tickets are sold at Gate 21 at Neyland Stadium beginning four hours before kickoff.
A word to the wise: If you are not coming into town to watch the football game, avoid downtown Knoxville on a game day. The entire city becomes a knot of congestion and Big Orange mania on these days, and if you don’t want to be part of it, you’ll hate the experience. Longtime residents who don’t particularly fancy college football say that game days are good times to go to the mall, visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or just stay home. Whatever you do, plan ahead.
In Knoxville, UT’s men’s basketball team plays second fiddle to the legendary Lady Vols, eight-time national champions who have been leaders of the women’s college basketball pack for a generation. The Lady Vols, under the leadership of coach Pat Head Summitt, play home games at Thompson-Boling Arena from November through March.
Single-game tickets go on sale in October and cost $10–20 depending on your seat. Buy tickets from the UT box office (1600 Phillip Fulmer Way, 865/565-1200, www.utladyvols.com).
Other UT Sports
UT plays a full slate of sports: track and field, baseball, softball, tennis, soccer, rowing, tennis, swimming, golf, and volleyball. The UT women’s softball team has performed well in recent years and is developing a reputation as a Southeastern Conference leader. UT tennis and track have good records, and in 2008 the university announced plans for a new golf center to bolster its program in that sport. For a full rundown of UT sports events, contact the athletics box office (1600 Phillip Fulmer Way, 865/565-1200).
The Knoxville Ice Bears (www.knoxvilleicebears.com) play at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum. The Ice Bears are a member of the Southern Professional Hockey League and play from October to April.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Tennessee, 5th Edition