Vols, Hokies to play at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2016

Vols, Hokies to play at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2016

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The game, called the Battle at Bristol will be held at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 10, 2016 (source: UT Sports) The game, called the Battle at Bristol will be held at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 10, 2016 (source: UT Sports)
An artist's rendering of Bristol Motor Speedway after being equipped with a football field (source: Bristol Motor Speedway) An artist's rendering of Bristol Motor Speedway after being equipped with a football field (source: Bristol Motor Speedway)

BRISTOL (WATE) - The Tennessee Vols and Virginia Tech Hokies will play a football game at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2016.

The game, called "The Battle at Bristol" will be held at the stadium on Sept. 10, 2016.

The announcement was made Monday morning at a press conference at the speedway.

Press conference attendees included Marcus Smith, president and COO of Speedway Motorsports, Jerry Caldwell, general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, Butch Jones, University of Tennessee head coach, Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech head coach, Dave Hart, University of Tennessee athletic director and Jim Weaver, Virginia Tech athletic director. Dr. Jerry Punch, auto racing and college football commentator for ESPN, served as press conference emcee.

Bristol is located about halfway between the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech on Interstate 81.

Bristol's proximity to both campuses made this event a rumored possibility since the 1990s.

Bristol Motor Speedway general manager and executive vice president Jerry Caldwell told the Associated Press track officials explored the feasibility of a game again early this year. He then approached Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart and Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver.

"We are looking forward to this opportunity to be a part of college football history," said University of Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones. "The chance to play in a great venue as Bristol Motor Speedway against a program the caliber of Virginia Tech is another illustration of how we are continuing to build upon our great and unique tradition here at Tennessee. Our players and everyone associated with our football program will have wonderful memories of being a part of such a historical event."

"This is an unprecedented opportunity for our football program to play in front of the largest crowd in the history of college football," said Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics for University of Tennessee, Dave Hart. "Bristol Motor Speedway will be perhaps the most unique venue to ever host a college football game. Tennessee students, faculty, alumni, and fans will look forward to being a part of this great event."

"To be able to play in front of a crowd that is the largest to ever see a college football game is a once in a lifetime opportunity," said Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech head coach. "With the great fan support that Virginia Tech and the University of Tennessee have, it should be a great atmosphere."

"We want to make this a huge, huge deal," Bruton Smith, track owner and president of BMS said. "Our goal is to set a world record for the largest attended football game in the world."

The speedway can hold an estimated 160,000 fans. The current record for highest attendance at a college football game is 115,109 fans at this year's Michigan vs. Notre Dame game held at Michigan stadium, though a 1927 game between Notre Dame and Southern California was said to be attended by 120,000.

It will take a large amount of work to prepare the speedway for the game.

Caldwell told the Associated Press a massive video board that sits atop a pylon in the middle of the infield will be taken out.

"Screens will be added inside the facility so everyone can still see everything," he said.

Immediately following the August 2016 NASCAR race, approximately 400 workers will begin cleaning and detailing work.

Crews will then begin pressure washing, an operation normally done in February. Crews will then clean all suites in a seven-day period, which is a process that normally takes four to six weeks.

Turf and field build will completed in eight days. The process includes using 8,500 tons of rock to build the base of the field.

The rock will be brought in by approximately 400 truckloads. The complete haul-in process will take three days. The base rock will be three to six feet deep in the middle of the infield, tapering to one to one and a half feet on the sidelines to allow for proper drainage.

Tennessee had been scheduled to play Nebraska in 2016 as part of a home-and-home series that has now been pushed back to 2026 and 2027.

Bristol Motor Speedway officials say tickets will start at $40. The average ticket price will be similar to other BMS/NASCAR events at around $93. Field level seating will be available.

Full ticket and event information is available at BattleatBristol.com.

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