HOOVER, Ala. — Tennessee’s athletic director might have jumped the gun when he said he’d bet orange will be the predominant color in the Vols’ opening game against Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
Gary Stokan, President and CEO of Peach Bowl, Inc., and the creator of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games, told SEC Country that the Yellow Jackets have sold more of their allotment than Tennessee.
“Tennessee is the only one with tickets left,” Stokan said. “Georgia Tech sold out all of theirs — they had 30,000 and Tennessee had 25,000, and Tennessee has a couple thousand left.”
John Currie said last week he had confidence the Vols’ fans would travel to Atlanta to support Tennessee in its season-opening game.
“It’s a neutral site game and the Vol nation will be in there in force,” Currie said, “and I’ll bet you orange will be the predominant shade.”
It seemed to make sense, with Tennessee’s largest out-of-state alumni chapter in Atlanta, and Vols’ fans having been treated to success in last season’s neutral site game with ACC Coastal Division champ Virginia Tech in Bristol.
The Yellow Jackets, however, may have out-maneuvered Tennessee on the marketing and business side of the ticket game to gain an advantage.
Georgia Tech wisely put its 30,000 ticket allotment for the 8 p.m. Monday night game on Sept. 4 in its season ticket package, even though this is technically a neutral site game.
“And then Georgia Tech came back and got even more tickets from us,” Stokan said, “about another 3,500.”
Capacity in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium figures to be around 65,000 for this game, as Stokan explained that approximately 4,500 seats in the suites will not be available.
Simple math suggests that even if Tennessee fans bought up the 7,500 or so tickets available to the general public — in addition to its 25,000-ticket allotment — the Yellow Jackets would still have more gold in the stands than there is orange.
Currie is aware of all the data, but he remains confident the Vols’ fans will rise to the occasion, as the secondary market for tickets will be active after Tennessee quickly sells out its allotment next week.
The Vols’ remaining tickets go on sale to the general public at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday at AllVols.com.
Stokan said he expects the game will be sold out “in the next week or two,” as fans scramble to snap up seats for what figures to be a national showcase event.
“Having it on Monday night, prime time, that TV slot typically is one of the highest TV ratings until the bowl games,” Stokan said. “So we think it’s gonna do a big number, 8 o’clock on ESPN, everyone is done with their cookouts and they will settle in and watch college football, and it’s the old SEC rivalry, Georgia Tech and Tennessee.”
Stokan explained fans in attendance are also going to be treated to old time prices at the concession stands.
“The prices on concessions are going to be back to 25 years ago, so you will be able to buy a Coke for $1.50 and get refills,” Stokan said. “[Atlanta Falcons owner] Arthur Blank, give him all the credit in the world, he wants to improve the fan experience, … so a hot dog will be $2 and Chick-fil-A sandwich will cost what you would pay for it in a store, so the concessions will be fairly priced so that will be a unique experience.”
Stokan said new Mercedes-Benz Stadium will offer all the advantages the Georgia Dome did, and more.
“The 360 degree JumboTron Halo Board is bigger than Jerry Jones board in Dallas, so that’s gonna be a unique experience,” Stokan said. “The seating capacity and sight lines are similar to the Georgia Dome’s, it’s tight and compact.
“It will have everything you got in the Georgia Dome but better, and there will be the excitement.”
Georgia Tech went 3-0 against SEC East Division teams last season, beating Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Georgia.