Three years from now, a NASCAR racetrack on the Tennessee/Virginia state line will host what’s billed as the “Biggest College Football Game Ever.” Promoters hope to attract 150,000 fans to see the Tennessee Volunteers play the Virginia Tech Hokies.
In September of 2016, crews at Bristol Motor Speedway will build a football field from scratch. 8,500 tons of rock will be poured into the track’s infield, before turf is layered on top. It’s a transformation that will happen pretty fast, says speedway general manager Jerry Caldwell.
“Two weeks after one the largest NASCAR events on the circuit, we’re going to have the largest sporting event in the country,” Caldwell said at a press conference in Bristol. NASCAR’s Irwin Tools Night Race is held at the speedway in late August.
Monday’s announcement was short on specifics, like who will sponsor the game, what ticket prices will be, and how much it will all cost. There’s been talk of holding a football game at the speedway for almost two decades. In 2005, owner Bruton Smith offered both UT and Virginia Tech $20 million to play at his track.
Smith hopes to break an attendance record set last month, reports ESPN:
“The NCAA-recognized attendance record for college football of 115,109 was set last month at Michigan Stadium for Michigan-Notre Dame. [...] The NCAA record book does note that in the late 1920s, Notre Dame played two games at Soldier Field in Chicago in front of crowds estimated at 120,000″
The 2016 match-up won’t be the first time the speedway has hosted a football game. In 1961, 8,500 spectators turned out to see the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the Washington Redskins.