Bristol Motor Speedway today announced plans to transform its iconic short track into the world’s largest football stadium for the inaugural “Battle at Bristol,” to be held on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. The event will feature a border battle between the Virginia Tech Hokies and Tennessee Volunteers and is projected to set the NCAA record for highest single-game attendance.
The announcement was made Monday during a press conference at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn. 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.
With an estimated seating capacity of 150,000, the Battle at Bristol is on track to crush prior college football attendance records. The previous two largest-attended college football games drew 117,000 and 115,000 fans, respectively.
“There has always been a desire by fans to see a football game at our historic Speedway,” said Bruton Smith, chairman and CEO of Speedway Motorsports. “We couldn’t be more excited to turn this long-time rumor into a reality and to provide sports fans with an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of the biggest college football game ever.”
Bristol Motor Speedway has a rich history of epic clashes and rivalries, so it’s only fitting that the inaugural event will feature a border battle between the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Tennessee Volunteers. This is a “border battle” in the literal sense, as the state line runs through downtown Bristol, creating the twin cities of Bristol, Va. and Bristol, Tenn.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“This event should be a very exciting experience for both universities and the fan bases of both teams,” said Jim Weaver, athletic director of Virginia Tech. “We are very excited to be a participant in what should be the largest crowd ever to see a football game.”
Over the course of a few weeks, the Speedway will transform from an iconic short track to a world-class football field. Key facts about the transformation include:
- Immediately following the August 2016 NASCAR race at Bristol Motor Speedway, approximately 400 workers will immediately begin bulk cleaning, and then detailing, the Speedway
- Next an estimated 10-12 crews will begin pressure washing – a process that is normally done in February prior to the March NASCAR weekend
- Separate crews will clean all suites in seven days – a process that normally takes four-to-six weeks
- Turf and field build will be completed in eight days
- Approximately 8,500 tons of rock will be used 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, 10-12 hour days
- The base rock will be 3′-6″ deep in the middle of the infield tapering to 1-1/2′ on sidelines to create the proper sloping effect for drainage