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October 14, 2013

VT/UT Battle At Bristol

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The attendance record for a college football game was set just last month at Michigan Stadium, when the Wolverines took on Notre Dame. But it appears that mark of 115,109 won't stand that long.

In an announcement this morning, Virginia Tech and Tennessee announced they've agreed to play a game Sept. 10, 2016 at Bristol Motor Speedway, in Bristol, Tennessee. The speedway has a capacity of over 160,000 for races, which would shatter the previous attendance mark. Tennesee will be the home team

Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver said he's been in discussion to play the game since he arrived in Blacksburg 17 years ago. This summer, he said negotiations continued with Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart and Jerry Caldwell, Bristol Motor Speedway Executive VP and General Manager.

"It's a reality that's as big as anything that's ever happened in the world of football," Weaver said.

The 52-year old speedway has hosted a football game just once, a pre-season NFL game between the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles in 1961, well before multiple expansions to the track.

Details of the game haven't been disclosed, but according to Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, both Virginia Tech and Tennessee will each earn about $4 milion from the game, though they'll each have to sell 40,000 tickets for the game. The payout for each school could reach $4.5 million.

Ironically, Tennessee coach Butch Jones faced Virginia Tech just last season as coach of Cincinnati. The Bearcats defeated the Hokies 27-24 at FedEx Field just outside of Washington, DC.

Of course, when Jones meets Virginia Tech again, it'll be in just a different setting. And it's one that Hokies coach Frank Beamer is familiar with, having driven the pace car at Bristol Motor Speedway previously for a race.

"Next to Lane Stadium, this is my favorite sports venue, I promise you," Beamer said.

"This is just big. Two great programs, two great fan bases. Now that it's official, I think tickets are gonna take off and I think it's just gonna be a great, great night. We're really proud to be a part of something that's just special. It's out there and special and Virginia Tech is proud to be a part of it."


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