Tailgating sites busy around Knoxville ahead of Vols - Fla. game

Tailgating sites busy around Knoxville ahead of Vols - Florida game

Posted:
Tailgating sites are already busy. Tailgating sites are already busy.
"I got to get my spot," John Mahoney said. "I got to feed 50 people tomorrow. I need room." "I got to get my spot," John Mahoney said. "I got to feed 50 people tomorrow. I need room."
"We came from Tampa to Texas A&M. That's 1,100 miles," Jim Berry said. "Then we came from Texas A&M to Knoxville. That's another 1,000 miles." "We came from Tampa to Texas A&M. That's 1,100 miles," Jim Berry said. "Then we came from Texas A&M to Knoxville. That's another 1,000 miles."

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The countdown continues to Tennessee's matchup with the Florida Gators and fans are already rallying and tailgating in Knoxville.

The West Town Mall parking lot hosted Rally the Vols Thursday, including bands, plenty of food and prizes.

Although kickoff isn't until 6:00 Saturday night, "We decided to come on in last night (Wednesday)," said Kim Smith, of Huntsville, Alabama. "We couldn't wait. We're just full of anticipation and excitement and we just wanted to come in."

The Knoxville Civic Coliseum parking garage is the site for many motor homes and RVs with fans tailgating for the game.

Many fans refer to John Mahoney as the mayor of the parking garage during each tailgate. He's a seasoned veteran who doesn't miss a Vols game and knows all about arriving early.

"I got to get my spot," Mahoney said. "I got to feed 50 people tomorrow. I need room."

Florida fans are arriving in Knoxville to do their own tailgating. One couple arrived in their RV Wednesday after traveling to the Gators' last road game.

"We came from Tampa to Texas A&M. That's 1,100 miles," Jim Berry said. "Then we came from Texas A&M to Knoxville. That's another 1,000 miles."

Across town at Sports Seasons apparel store in West Knoxville, fans are buying up their gameday gear. "I don't have a shirt," Jonah Mannis said. "I don't want to go in looking like an idiot. Everyone is going to be wearing orange and white. I've got to fit in with everyone."

Management at Sports Seasons says they've done three times more business than usual because of this weekend's game. They're selling plenty of Vols merchandise and Gator gear.

"There's a lot of Gator fans in Knoxville," said Stephen Deel, with Sports Seasons. "We try to take advantage of that and help them out."

Although the teams are bitter rivals on the field, in some tailgating lots there's more of a friendly feud between Vol fans and Gator fans.

"We have a lot of Vols fans that are friends, and we reciprocate when they come to Gainesville," one Florida fan said.

Some tailgating comes with a hefty price tag. Some Florida fans with RVs said they spent more than $1,000 on gas to come to Knoxville.

Although it costs money each day to reserve a spot at the parking garage, the fans say it's all worth it for the experience.

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