College Football Battle Coming to Bristol Motor Speedway | Edmunds

College Football Battle Coming to Bristol Motor Speedway

Just the Facts:
  • A college football game will be played in 2016 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee.
  • Expectations are that the game, in the 160,000-seat venue, will shatter the college football game attendance record.
  • The Tennessee Volunteers will take on the Virginia Tech Hokies.

BRISTOL, Tennessee — Expectations are huge for a college football game that will be played September 10, 2016, at iconic NASCAR venue Bristol Motor Speedway.

"I full well believe we'll play in front of the largest crowd to ever watch or have watched a football game — that's college and pro," predicted Virginia Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver.

The Hokies will take on the Tennessee Volunteers in the Battle at Bristol, confirmed with a gonzo announcement on Monday at the half-mile concrete oval track just south of the state line.

"If you have an opportunity to play in a venue that's going to set the all-time record for football at every level — the largest crowd potentially to ever witness a football game — well, you can talk about that for the rest of your life," UT Athletic Director Dave Hart said.

The track, site of two annual races on NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series since it opened in 1961, is a high-banked, half-mile, concrete bowl. It is ringed by towering grandstands that seat approximately 160,000 people.

The year the track opened, it was the site of an exhibition football game between the NFL's Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles. Twin concrete grandstands on each side of the oval held 18,000 at that time.

That game has been all but forgotten. This one will have much more fanfare, as it is all but certain to shatter the college football attendance record of 115,109 for this year's Notre Dame-at-Michigan game.

The track is roughly halfway between the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg. Tennessee will be the home team.

For perspective, the Bristol racetrack is twice as big as the running tracks that encircle many football fields, so the regulation football field —120 yards by 53.3 yards — will fit inside the infield much like a basketball court fits into a stadium built for football.

Temporary seating will be brought in, most likely to be placed on the front and back straightaways — which are banked as much as 10 degrees. The turns in each end of the oval are a steep 36 degrees, and seats in each end of the stadium will be as much as a quarter mile from the boundaries of the field.

The Associated Press reported that each school will get 40,000 tickets to sell, which could net $4 million. There is a bonus plan that will pay each school an additional $300,000 if the event is a sellout.

Edmunds says: The game will take place two weeks after the usual date for the track's fall 500-lap race, so conversion into a football venue will be quite a hustle.

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