How Opryland Plans To Feed Two Hungry College Football Teams For The Music City Bowl

Dec 29, 2016

The football teams from the University of Tennessee and the University of Nebraska are in Nashville prepping for Friday's Music City Bowl. And even though they're competitors, they're staying in the same hotel.

It's a unique undertaking for the Gaylord Opryland Resort, which not only houses them but also has to figure out how to feed two high-powered football programs. 

The event staff at Opryland is used to catering dozens of large groups simultaneously, so handling two football teams doesn't throw them. But they rarely get requests so detailed and varied.

"They'll hand us a whole packet of, 'Here's what we eat on game day; here's what we eat the day before,' " says Diane Skrabec, an assistant director of event planning at Opryland. 

Players are on different meal regimens, so not every request fits together. "I think it was a couple of years ago, when I worked the bowl, we had like chicken parmesan and then we had grilled cheese sandwiches," she says — a combination she would not have put together on her own. "You know, to me, I love a good theme."

The staff has gotten odder requests. One year, a team refused to drink Gatorade, since it was developed at the University of Florida.

"We had to bring in all this Powerade, because at the time we had a ton of Gatorade," Skrabec says. 

This year, Opryland had a different dilemma: The facility had so many palettes of Gatorade coming in for the teams that it needed extra space to store them. 

Skrabec is not allowed to say what else Tennessee or Nebraska is consuming — it might take away a competitive advantage.

In fact, Opryland makes sure the competitors don't accidentally spy on each other during meals, or other gatherings. They put the teams in separate sections of the building, and the convention center is so large they even keep a whole section in the middle as a buffer.