KINGSPORT, Tenn.— Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer said he’s open to a return to Bristol Motor Speedway’s enclosed coliseum for a football game.
It was a concept that originated shortly after Fulmer led the Vols to the 1998 national championship, but former athletic director Doug Dickey was not on board with the idea.
Dickey said at the time that he didn’t want to give up a home game to play at a neutral site.
Further, Dickey said at that time, playing Virginia Tech didn’t have the necessary appeal because the Vols already had an ACC team schedule for a home and home series in the form of Miami, Fla.
Fulmer revealed Thursday night on the fifth and final Big Orange Caravan stop, in Kingsport, that contracts were indeed offered.
“It never came to fruition, (but) there was a lot of talk about it,” Fulmer said. “You’d say let’s send the contract and the numbers and see how it might work out.
“After I left, they finally did [play a game there], but when I was there it was just more of a conversation.”
Tennessee beat Virginia Tech 45-24 in the second game of the 2016 season, setting a single-game attendance record with 156,990 fans on hand.
Bristol Motor Speedway officials said in January that they planned to hold another football game at the world-famous NASCAR facility but did not disclose any teams being considered.
Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt has said he is interested in games in markets where Tennessee recruits, and that strategy carries over to neutral site games.
“It’s important if you’re going to play away from your stadium in a home and home, you want to play at a place that has recruiting ramifications,” Pruitt said. “Obviously if you looked up through Virginia and going up through the DMV (DC-Maryland and Virginia) headed up North, we’re really the first stop for the SEC.
“If Coach Fulmer schedules us a game there, we’ll be there.”
Fulmer knows the recruiting angles as well as Pruitt, and he took note of the attention the game received.
“It was a real great event, a nationally followed event,” Fulmer said. “I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t look at that in the future.”
Tennessee AD Phillip Fulmer
Posted by Tennessee Volunteers Insiders on Thursday, May 24, 2018
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