UT hopes Butch Jones will boost student attendance, but Vols fighting nationwide ticket trend

AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/news sentinel
Tennessee fans do the wave in a 45-23 win against Cincinnati at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, KNS/2011

AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/news sentinel Tennessee fans do the wave in a 45-23 win against Cincinnati at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011.

A student ID and 10 bucks was all it took to get a ticket to Neyland Stadium for a home football game last year. On most Saturdays, there also was room to bring along a few thousand friends.

Sagging student attendance is an issue across the country — even at schools winning championships — but at Tennessee, the drop has been especially stark.

On average, fewer than 5,000 students were in attendance each week during the Vols’ seven-game home schedule in 2012, and a rare sellout in Week 3 against Florida inflated the total.

With a student allotment of 12,683 tickets, the gaping sections of empty seats are becoming especially noticeable — and embarrassing — when TV cameras pan the crowd.

“The students bring the energy. No one has a bigger influence on the competitive advantage at your home venues,” said UT senior associate athletic director Chris Fuller. “We want to accommodate every single student who wants to attend.”

That has been remarkably easy in recent years, but finding overflow seating for students is a problem that UT and Fuller would love to have.

A new head coach and a few winning seasons could go a long way to reverse the trend. But the problem of sagging student attendance is far more complex than simply wins and losses, and UT is not alone in trying to crack a challenging demographic.

“Originally, I thought it was a win-loss thing,” said Jake Baker, president of UT’s Student Government Association. “But the research shows that it’s happening everywhere. Alabama’s winning championships left and right, and they’re having trouble selling out. It’s happening across the board.”

Grim numbers

Tennessee’s student section spans 12,683 seats and two decks in the east and southeast corner of Neyland Stadium. Of that allotment, 543 are reserved for the band and 412 are held for student-athletes. The rest — 11,728 — go into the inventory for student purchase.

For the game against Florida on Sept. 15, students claimed all the tickets and 91 percent attended the game, one of the best showings in recent history.

But the loss to Florida set Derek Dooley’s final season on a downward slope and the rest of the numbers weren’t as pretty. Students used 9,163 tickets for the game against No. 1 Alabama. Games against Akron, Troy and Kentucky helped drag the average attendance under 5,000.

In the past four years, students have used more than 10,000 tickets only three times — last year and in 2010 against Florida and in 2011 against Georgia.

Why have Tennessee student ticket sales dwindled? Fuller and other administrators in the ticket industry say it’s happening for the same reason that ticket sales have plunged nationally, in every sport and venue.

The biggest culprit is probably sitting in your living room now.

Fifteen years ago, no one had heard of HDTV. Perhaps your rich uncle owned a big-screen television, but even then televised sporting events were still fuzzy and offered little threat to the live-event ticket market.

Today the technology to deliver live sports with the incredible clarity of high definition is everywhere. Seemingly everyone has an HD TV. Many people have big screens, or can visit a friend who does. For many fans, watching a game for free or paying to battle traffic, parking and sunburn (or frostbite) to see it in person is a no-brainer. They’re staying at home.

Students aren’t immune from those trends. In fact, Fuller said, he believes technology has a greater impact on student attendance than any other market.

“I put it like this,” Fuller said. “If you’ve had a cellphone your whole life, then you’re different. You have a different perspective and different expectations than folks in my generation who adapted with the technology.”

These hurdles didn’t exist a few years ago. Now professional and college sports teams are racing to catch up.

“It’s a quicksilver demographic,” Fuller said. “Just when you think you’ve found something, something else pops up.”

Changes to the system

If you’re a student, getting football tickets is surprisingly simple. There are no season-ticket packages purchased in August. Every game is available on an individual basis.

“It’s kind of like a lottery system,” said Baker.

Only it’s a lottery that everyone wins.

About a week or so before each game, students log in to BigOrangeTix.com to request a seat (or seats, if they’re sitting with friends).

“Most students, if they request a ticket, they’ll be granted a ticket,” Baker said. “I’ve never heard of anyone not being able to go to a game.”

Fuller met with Baker and other UT students this month to share ticketing data and trade ideas for increasing student involvement. They also worked out some deals.

When Tennessee plays host to South Carolina on Oct. 19, it will be a hot ticket. The Gamecocks will sell most or all of their allotment, so Neyland Stadium should be packed. But the game sits in the heart of fall break for UT students. Historical data show there are likely to be thousands of unclaimed student tickets for the game, so student leaders agreed that part of the student allotment could be sold to the public.

“Normally it would be a big SEC game, but on fall break, most of the students won’t be on campus during that time,” Baker said.

The 2014 season is likely to bring more changes. The emptiest part of the student section is in the east upper deck — sections DD, EE and FF. Some students with upper-deck tickets even sneak down into lower-deck seats during games for the better view and atmosphere.

“They’re the least attractive to the students, and they’re probably among the most marketable to the general public,” Fuller said.

Even worse? “They’re really visible when they’re empty.”

Fuller and the students have discussed trading the upper-deck student sections for expanded territory in the lower bowl. The student section would be slightly smaller, but the seats would be more desirable and section would be more unified.

“We might have a few less student seats (in 2014), but the quality’s going to be much higher,” Baker said.

Ideas abound

Fuller said UT — and other SEC schools — are working hard to enhance the game day experience to better compete with the couch, the cooler of drinks and the big-screen TV that has lured so many away from the stadium.

After his meeting with student leaders, he handed out his cellphone. If they had ideas, he wanted to hear them.

“It’s the best market research we have for how we’re going to keep our business viable,” he said. “We need to find a way to get that demographic engaged not only when they’re here, but after they leave.”

An informal News Sentinel survey of students came up with a few ideas.

At Tennessee, every student ticket is in an assigned seat. Some said they were irked by students who arrived at halftime to claim their reserved seats, bumping more dedicated fans into less desirable parts of the section. Selling general admission seats that are first-come, first served, which many schools do, would solve that problem.

“The people who legitimately care about the game will get the prime seats, while the people who just come for the social event won’t get the same seats and are hopefully more likely to make it there before kickoff,” said Brett Burger, a senior from Maryville.

Another common refrain was modernizing the game-day atmosphere, adding hip-hop music to rev up the crowd. And then there was the technology. No one likes spending hours in a cellphone dead zone.

Fuller said fans may have noticed improvements in 2012, depending on their carriers, and the entire league is working on solutions to improve cellphone data coverage at events.

New coach, same challenges

Butch Jones has made aggressive outreach an important part of his eight-month tenure at UT, and students are no exception.

“There’s a lot of excitement surrounding the football program right now,” Baker said.

Even so, Fuller cautions that even winning seasons might not cause UT’s attendance to swing back to the glory days of 15 years ago. The ticketing landscape has changed dramatically since then.

“Technology has changed the experience so much,” Fuller said. “Now, winning clearly will have an impact. But I think it’s naive to think that will immediately revert you back to the glory days when you had to experience (the games) firsthand.”

The spring game on April 20 that drew 61,076 fans, the second-highest mark in school history, offered reason for optimism.

“Our fans always respond when challenged,” Fuller said. “And I think Butch challenged them. His voice and his connection to the fan base is going to be powerful.”

If the new coach offers a similar challenge to students in 2013, will it be enough to energize an apathetic student body? Die-hard student fans want to believe it will.

“(UT) needs to bring back the fire it once had between students and players,” said Dylan Harvey, a senior from Kingsport. “Make Neyland a true home-field advantage.”

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 123

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Ed_Fullerton_Shined:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor say they have already fired one or two bammers out of the AD's office and Hart will be getting rid of one or two more soon. Witch Doctor say dont worry about silly stuff...makes you look old and bitter! Witch Doctor say oh..wait.lol
Bones never lie.

jbc writes:

It seems at both football and basketball games you want students right next to the playing surface.

volaholic45 writes:

Hip-hop music to rev up the crowd - yeah, that's the ticket.

Unless you're talking Jump Around like at Wisconsin - then that is pretty fun and cool.

MetroplexMojo writes:

I call BS on the excuses...

It's not HDTVs, gas prices, ticket prices, or the economy, it was the product under Dooley.

If Coach Jones wins conference championships like he did at prior 2 stops, there will be NO attendance issues

voloffaith writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say they have already fired one or two bammers out of the AD's office and Hart will be getting rid of one or two more soon. Witch Doctor say dont worry about silly stuff...makes you look old and bitter! Witch Doctor say oh..wait.lol
Bones never lie.

You know this our sad,same old train wreck reinvented once again. Same old record keeps playing and is stuck in the groove he has worn through repetitive playing of the same old cut
On topic, the students want entertainment and commitment to a former coach is the last thing on most minds. You need some new material as the dry,stale bread is really crummy for sure...............

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to voloffaith:

You know this our sad,same old train wreck reinvented once again. Same old record keeps playing and is stuck in the groove he has worn through repetitive playing of the same old cut
On topic, the students want entertainment and commitment to a former coach is the last thing on most minds. You need some new material as the dry,stale bread is really crummy for sure...............

Witch Doctor just giving him a "hello" Witch Doctor style. lol
Bones never lie.

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to Ed_Fullerton_Shined:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

you never went to UT

GoVols025 writes:

in response to MetroplexMojo:

I call BS on the excuses...

It's not HDTVs, gas prices, ticket prices, or the economy, it was the product under Dooley.

If Coach Jones wins conference championships like he did at prior 2 stops, there will be NO attendance issues

True! Stop with the gimmicks and win some ballgames. End of problems...

lemme_axya_this writes:

If Rocky Top doesn't rev'em up, don't play anything. Rocky Top without that infernal "woo". By the way, cell phone reception is my last concern at the game.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to shiftb:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor bet you are an absolute joy to have a seat beside during a football game...lol.
Bones never lie.

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to shiftb:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Curious: have you ever stepped foot inaide Neyland? I'm betting, since you're a wannabe/neverwas, the true answer is "no" but I'm pretty sure you'll make something up. "Elite athletes" usually do.

prideofthesouthland writes:

Last year, I requested a student ticket and a guest ticket (for two separate SEC games)but I was denied the (full price)guest ticket each time. I don't get it. Then, the Thursay before the game, they would e-mail me in order to tell me that I can have my guest ticket now-two days before the game-but by then it is too late for guests to plan to come from out of town. They have more than attendance problems: they have allotment problems too. Just sayin.

ReeseHallRelic writes:

Uh oh, one Fraud Squad member just dissed another Fraud Squad member. Lack of teamwork is evident.

Eddie-ScissorsShined: "Those who actually attend classes on the Hill, just like us real UT alumni..."

That kinda leaves you in the gutter, ToddyBoi. Even Jeffy has no respect for you!

prideofthesouthland writes:

in response to lemme_axya_this:

If Rocky Top doesn't rev'em up, don't play anything. Rocky Top without that infernal "woo". By the way, cell phone reception is my last concern at the game.

Amen! When did the "woo" start anyway?

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to Ed_Fullerton_Shined:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You really are ridiculous in this anti-Bama virus you have.

These guys are all professionals, making good money. You think for a second that they would jeopardize their jobs (and the income) for some alma mater school spirit? That's rubbish.

Lemme guess: you also are convinced we never landed on the moon in 1969, and that 9-11 was an "inside job."

Try to make sure you have at least two adjacent brain cells that work properly before taking up bandwidth.

twicevolalum writes:

It would be awesome if Fuller would read these comments. 1) What is with the schedule. I don't remember 15 years ago spending 3/4 of the season watching the likes of MTSU. I think the expansion of the non conference schedule combined with the downgrade of the non conference schedule makes the appeal of attending at UT game pretty low. As a twice vol alum who now lives the distance of an expensive plane trip away, I will not spend the money to go see UT play these second tier teams and I'm not spending the money to watch UT get their butt beat in the SEC! 2) Until really recently, Tennessee never had a home game during fall break. Seriously, y'all know when fall break will be! Work out the schedule so you're not sitting there holding 5,000 student tickets and scratching your head wondering where all the students are over fall break! 3)Charges were added to student tickets after Orange Nation was dissolved. I loved Orange Nation as a grad student. It was a unifying experience and gave some benefits to students like seats within the first 12 rows. Either eliminate the cost for student tickets (which I know you won't do) or bring back some form of Orange Nation to have a loud and proud club of students who STAND in support of the team. Or take your own piece of advice and do a general admission ticket. God knows I spent many games standing turned sideways watching Tennessee because there were so many people crammed into the student section. That may be something you want to evaluate. 4) Butch Jones (blah) needs to take on the larger than life persona of Bruce Pearl (also blah, but did wonders for creating a student following). Butch Jones needs to put in an appearance in the cafeteria, organize with the pride and do special appearances on campus. There needs to be some true orange home pride put back on campus through cookouts, special appearances, WELCOME WEEK, Night in neyland, Freshman Picnic, Pep Rallies with food in circle Park. Seriously that SEC TV contract should give the athletic department enough funds to invest in some free food and events for students on campus! 5) Neyland stadium has become more corporate than I can stand! Because of the exclusivity of the athletic department, the opportunities to share the gameday experience with families is pretty low. Make it possible at least for the time being for a student to be able to bring his or her parents to the game. 15 years ago, it was about fitting as many Tennessee fans as possible into Neyland Stadium. Today, it's about making as much as possible off of people while giving special catering to the ultra rich. Figure out ways for students and their families to come to Neyland together. 6) Tennessee needs a hero. Heroes are found in signature wins (Jeff Hall and the Tennessee defensive line).

twicevolalum writes:

7) I say this cautiously. We fought hard to get student ticket allotments raised to something reasonable where students who wanted to go to games could go. The demand isn't there right now, it seems. Maybe lower your supply of student tickets. All of that being said, I'm still pissed that out of all the years I was a student at UT, I never once won the lottery to go on the road for a conference championship, bowl game, or big SEC away game. It wasn't right.

Last but not least, Tennessee needs a signature win or 2 or 3. It's time! None of this will make a darn bit of difference without Tennessee taking out the gators, the tide, or the bulldogs. Also, I think if the SEC is looking for expansion again, finding some team that can off set the absurdity of Missouri. I know MO beat us last year but I don't see that being a long-term trend and it's just absurd they're in the conference. If Tennessee has leverage in future conference expansion talks, they need to use it to get a real team such as Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech. The SEC East just got the bad end of the deal on Missouri. Missouri doesn't give a rats you know what about being in the SEC and for everyone else, especially teams in the East that have to play them every year, they are a schedule downgrade and they either need to be eliminated or in the next expansion, the east needs a real team.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to shiftb:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

3 NC's in 4 years has more to do with attendance increases. Any person with a brain could see that, but then again you're a moron..

rogatl2002#222395 writes:

Stop charging for student tickets. They pay enough to go to school there. When I was in school we didn't have to pay to go to games.

Snapshot writes:

in response to GeauxTeamScribe:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The commode dores may not have enough players left to field a team with all the armed robbery, sexual assault and stabbings going on.

philgreen5#410561 writes:

in response to rogatl2002#222395:

Stop charging for student tickets. They pay enough to go to school there. When I was in school we didn't have to pay to go to games.

I agree 100%... my son is a student having to pay $250 for a textbook they won't buy back, $285 a semester to park their car, and tuition that goes up 6-8 percent every year..... most students struggle to make ends meet, GO BACK TO FREE STUDENT TICKETS!

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to GeauxTeamScribe:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What do you mean "our" locker room? I thought you were a Vandy fan? ha ha you just told on yourself. You are a freaking poser. I believe you and Fullerton are one and the same. You have been exposed, loser! troll

Snapshot writes:

in response to ReeseHallRelic:

You really are ridiculous in this anti-Bama virus you have.

These guys are all professionals, making good money. You think for a second that they would jeopardize their jobs (and the income) for some alma mater school spirit? That's rubbish.

Lemme guess: you also are convinced we never landed on the moon in 1969, and that 9-11 was an "inside job."

Try to make sure you have at least two adjacent brain cells that work properly before taking up bandwidth.

Well said. You just have to remember what a moron and conspiracy theory nut you are responding to.

GerryOP writes:

Wins will make all ticket sale/empty seat problems go away. You've got the ball Butch. You're on stage ... front and center!

IdahoVol writes:

in response to rogatl2002#222395:

Stop charging for student tickets. They pay enough to go to school there. When I was in school we didn't have to pay to go to games.

You are right on, although I don't see that happening. Students tend to be the loudest fans so we need as many at the games as possible. Plus, thinking long term, this is where you continue to build your loyal fan base. If the students don't go to games while they are in school, they won't go out of their way to go to games once they graduate. There is no doubt having the opportunity to go to games as a student made me a hard core fan just like all of my buddies. If I had to buy tickets as a student I would not have been able to afford attending nearly as many games.

MikeNPS writes:

When I was a student at UT, the student activities fee included tickets to football games, with no extra charge for the ticket. Nowadays, with the higher costs of going to college, why would any student pay anything extra to see the likes of Austin Peay and Western Kentucky?

ancientvolfan2 writes:

I don't know the answer. But I would ask. Has college football become such a professional sport in every way but athlete pay that students can't relate to the game as much? Especially if it's so professional the students are having to pay for tickets?
I realize the players aren't paid like pro players, but everything else is pure professional, private enterprise business.

kyletrktr writes:

As a student at Auburn (but a Tennessee fan at heart), I can vouch for the effectiveness of GA tickets. I arrived two hours before the TA&M game and didn't even get front row until the 4th quarter. Also another suggestion, DO NOT EVER ALLOW RESERVED BLOCK SEATING FOR FRATERNITIES. They get there late and leave after halftime. Another suggestion that's not really possible for Tennessee would be moving the student section where the players run through the T closer to the students. Chill bumps every time. Go Vols!

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

Let's see.....Student tickets cost $10 each. The first thing to do is make them free. I'll bet you can include the cost in the fees they all have to pay every year. That would be at most $80/year per student. Since the number of student tickets you're currently making available is less than half the number of students enrolled, it would actually be less than $40 per student. An extra $40 on top of the average $25,000-$27,000 undergraduate cost of attendance wouldn't even be noticed, but the word "FREE" sure would be.

Next thing you have to do is make them all WANT to be there, win or lose. Somehow Mississippi State students all want to be at every home game, even the one they play on Thanksgiving every year. Either don't schedule a game during the Fall break, or schedule your best annual rivalry game that week.

Also, Wifi the hell out of the stadium, and make sure it's free. All those kids need their smartphones up and running 24 hours a day. They'll tweet and vine, and whatever, all through the game.

Next thing I would do is make room for a lucky few to be down on the sideline (unless it's illegal or something). Pick them out of the crowd early in the game or during the pre-game, based on some kind of competition, or just random seat number drawing. Competition would be better, because it would encourage some very active/vocal cheering and such.

Since you don't expect to be selling out anyway, don't limit the number of student tickets available up to some deadline at least, like 1 or 2 weeks prior to the game, then put unclaimed tickets on the market.

You could also drop the price of all the tickets a little. Put butts in the seats. Sell them name-your-own-price, ala priceline dot com if you have to.

hateNCloveTN writes:

"Alabama" Your day will come!

stevefrommemphis writes:

"No one likes spending hours in a cellphone dead zone." I had to laugh at this one. Say they get great cell phone service inside Neyland Stadium. What would the calls and text messages look like? "I'm in DD. Where are you?" "DD. OMG! I'm on 5th row of E. Come down here." "No, too crowded. You come up here." And so forth.

Why would any student buy a ticket for $10 when they could buy one on the street for less to the Austin Peay, Western Kentucky, South Alabama, Auburn, and Vanderbilt games?" Let the students in for free.

Another thing not mentioned in the story is the behavior of the Knoxville Police Dept thugs whom I have seen treat paying customers like dirt numerous times over the years. If that's the way they act toward adults, I imagine they use the games as an excuse to treat students even worse.

underthehill writes:

in response to twicevolalum:

It would be awesome if Fuller would read these comments. 1) What is with the schedule. I don't remember 15 years ago spending 3/4 of the season watching the likes of MTSU. I think the expansion of the non conference schedule combined with the downgrade of the non conference schedule makes the appeal of attending at UT game pretty low. As a twice vol alum who now lives the distance of an expensive plane trip away, I will not spend the money to go see UT play these second tier teams and I'm not spending the money to watch UT get their butt beat in the SEC! 2) Until really recently, Tennessee never had a home game during fall break. Seriously, y'all know when fall break will be! Work out the schedule so you're not sitting there holding 5,000 student tickets and scratching your head wondering where all the students are over fall break! 3)Charges were added to student tickets after Orange Nation was dissolved. I loved Orange Nation as a grad student. It was a unifying experience and gave some benefits to students like seats within the first 12 rows. Either eliminate the cost for student tickets (which I know you won't do) or bring back some form of Orange Nation to have a loud and proud club of students who STAND in support of the team. Or take your own piece of advice and do a general admission ticket. God knows I spent many games standing turned sideways watching Tennessee because there were so many people crammed into the student section. That may be something you want to evaluate. 4) Butch Jones (blah) needs to take on the larger than life persona of Bruce Pearl (also blah, but did wonders for creating a student following). Butch Jones needs to put in an appearance in the cafeteria, organize with the pride and do special appearances on campus. There needs to be some true orange home pride put back on campus through cookouts, special appearances, WELCOME WEEK, Night in neyland, Freshman Picnic, Pep Rallies with food in circle Park. Seriously that SEC TV contract should give the athletic department enough funds to invest in some free food and events for students on campus! 5) Neyland stadium has become more corporate than I can stand! Because of the exclusivity of the athletic department, the opportunities to share the gameday experience with families is pretty low. Make it possible at least for the time being for a student to be able to bring his or her parents to the game. 15 years ago, it was about fitting as many Tennessee fans as possible into Neyland Stadium. Today, it's about making as much as possible off of people while giving special catering to the ultra rich. Figure out ways for students and their families to come to Neyland together. 6) Tennessee needs a hero. Heroes are found in signature wins (Jeff Hall and the Tennessee defensive line).

Interesting comment..especially #5..I think making school sports all business may be taking it's toll..especially when you put an inferior product on display..

thevoice writes:

Time to pull out the trump card: alcohol.

stevefrommemphis writes:

in response to twicevolalum:

It would be awesome if Fuller would read these comments. 1) What is with the schedule. I don't remember 15 years ago spending 3/4 of the season watching the likes of MTSU. I think the expansion of the non conference schedule combined with the downgrade of the non conference schedule makes the appeal of attending at UT game pretty low. As a twice vol alum who now lives the distance of an expensive plane trip away, I will not spend the money to go see UT play these second tier teams and I'm not spending the money to watch UT get their butt beat in the SEC! 2) Until really recently, Tennessee never had a home game during fall break. Seriously, y'all know when fall break will be! Work out the schedule so you're not sitting there holding 5,000 student tickets and scratching your head wondering where all the students are over fall break! 3)Charges were added to student tickets after Orange Nation was dissolved. I loved Orange Nation as a grad student. It was a unifying experience and gave some benefits to students like seats within the first 12 rows. Either eliminate the cost for student tickets (which I know you won't do) or bring back some form of Orange Nation to have a loud and proud club of students who STAND in support of the team. Or take your own piece of advice and do a general admission ticket. God knows I spent many games standing turned sideways watching Tennessee because there were so many people crammed into the student section. That may be something you want to evaluate. 4) Butch Jones (blah) needs to take on the larger than life persona of Bruce Pearl (also blah, but did wonders for creating a student following). Butch Jones needs to put in an appearance in the cafeteria, organize with the pride and do special appearances on campus. There needs to be some true orange home pride put back on campus through cookouts, special appearances, WELCOME WEEK, Night in neyland, Freshman Picnic, Pep Rallies with food in circle Park. Seriously that SEC TV contract should give the athletic department enough funds to invest in some free food and events for students on campus! 5) Neyland stadium has become more corporate than I can stand! Because of the exclusivity of the athletic department, the opportunities to share the gameday experience with families is pretty low. Make it possible at least for the time being for a student to be able to bring his or her parents to the game. 15 years ago, it was about fitting as many Tennessee fans as possible into Neyland Stadium. Today, it's about making as much as possible off of people while giving special catering to the ultra rich. Figure out ways for students and their families to come to Neyland together. 6) Tennessee needs a hero. Heroes are found in signature wins (Jeff Hall and the Tennessee defensive line).

+1 Shamilton was jealous of Florida's fancy third deck, where you can't see the game but at least get free hot dogs and ice cream. Then he got bamboozled by architects who convinced him to turn Neyland into the Taj Mahal. But to have the money to do that, he had to try to find 'big money' willing to pay. The Great Recession hit at just about the same time. Now, here we are in a scenario I'm sure is worse than the "worse case" ever projected when Neyland was upgraded. They just sent me an offer to buy 6 more season tickets, with no premium required this year. I'm not even going to use most of the tickets I had to buy (to Austin Peay, W Ky, So Alabama).

shoelessvol#236864 writes:

Years ago the game day experience was the "it" place to be...unfortunately not so much anymore. There is just a lot of competition for Saturday afternoons of Saturday evenings. Game times change from week to week making it difficult to plan. As a long time (and current) season ticket holder it's still a great family time for us! Wins will make an impact...an improved home schedule will help as well. Who wants to see Austin Peay, Western Kentucky and South Alabama as non-conference games at home...with UT Chattanooga next year? Give the fans some teams worth watching!!

thevoice writes:

This electronic generation of kids is the crowd you better cater to, as in, making the venue exciting enough to attract them to games. If not, they'll get older like me but won't be interested in even watching the game on HDTV. Then what?

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to shiftb:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor say tired and old are adjectives Witch Doctor pretty sure you are very familiar and deal with on a daily basis! Witch Doctor say creativity ?...well that coming from you? Witch Doctor say thanks! hahaha
Bones never lie

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say tired and old are adjectives Witch Doctor pretty sure you are very familiar and deal with on a daily basis! Witch Doctor say creativity ?...well that coming from you? Witch Doctor say thanks! hahaha
Bones never lie

Come on Witchy. You can't say he lacks creativity. He has to exercise it regularly, coming up with new user ids when the old one gets banned. Also, thinking he's "the greatest" shows just how active his imagination is.

MooseandSquirrelVol writes:

in response to shiftb:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

As Larry the Cable Guy said, "Now that right there is FUNNY! I don't care who you are."

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to shiftb:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

John Travolta originated "Get-R-Done"??

twicevolalum writes:

in response to stevefrommemphis:

"No one likes spending hours in a cellphone dead zone." I had to laugh at this one. Say they get great cell phone service inside Neyland Stadium. What would the calls and text messages look like? "I'm in DD. Where are you?" "DD. OMG! I'm on 5th row of E. Come down here." "No, too crowded. You come up here." And so forth.

Why would any student buy a ticket for $10 when they could buy one on the street for less to the Austin Peay, Western Kentucky, South Alabama, Auburn, and Vanderbilt games?" Let the students in for free.

Another thing not mentioned in the story is the behavior of the Knoxville Police Dept thugs whom I have seen treat paying customers like dirt numerous times over the years. If that's the way they act toward adults, I imagine they use the games as an excuse to treat students even worse.

Steve, you are right about this. They are looking to make arrests at the student gate. Everyone is wanded from their private parts to their ankles. It is very bad. I filed a complaint about how ridiculous it had become during grad school and while I got a response, nothing changed. After I no longer got student tickets, I was always very grateful about entering the stadium in a regular gate and not a student gate. The student gate, they have contempt for you for even entering. At every other gate, they welcome you to Neyland Stadium.

twicevolalum writes:

in response to shoelessvol#236864:

Years ago the game day experience was the "it" place to be...unfortunately not so much anymore. There is just a lot of competition for Saturday afternoons of Saturday evenings. Game times change from week to week making it difficult to plan. As a long time (and current) season ticket holder it's still a great family time for us! Wins will make an impact...an improved home schedule will help as well. Who wants to see Austin Peay, Western Kentucky and South Alabama as non-conference games at home...with UT Chattanooga next year? Give the fans some teams worth watching!!

You are absolutely correct about the non-conference schedule and add to that Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Missouri, and it just makes for the majority of the season, even the majority of the home season, to be a downgraded experience.

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to shiftb:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You just breezed right past Jeffy's later comment where he demeaned wannabe/neverwas clowns like you, who never actually attended classes on the Hill, like us real UT alumni. You don't even live in the state of Tennessee. You live in Bama.

You still insist that Dave Hart is a Bama "mole"? I believe that there is a lot greater chance that you are a clandestine Bama troll than he is a clandestine Bama mole.

Fraud Squad, indeed.

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor bet you are an absolute joy to have a seat beside during a football game...lol.
Bones never lie.

Hey, ToddyBoi? I noticed that you sidestepped my earlier questions:

Have you ever attended a UT football game? Have you ever stepped foot inside Neyland?

When I asked them, I figured you'd say yes, even if it wasn't a truthful answer. But the mere fact that you sidestepped the questions convinces me, even more, that you haven't.

You live in Tuscaloosa.
You aren't a UT alumnus.
You never attended a class at UT.
You never stepped foot in Neyland.
You probably never set foot on campus.
You never attended a UT football game anywhere, anytime.

You're just a wannabe/neverwas.

Living in Mommy's basement, getting a weekly allowance from Dad for helping sell rabbit ears.

Getting rid of Alabama alums in the Athletic Dept. isn't an answer to anything. Make student tickets free, like they were when I was at UT, will help get students seats in the butts. And (I hate saying this) all of the suggestions about WiFi are correct: way too many kids cannot be separated from their smart phones for 4 hours.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to shiftb:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor remember... just like always you made some tired old comebacks from the 50's. Witch Doctor say you know I own you anytime I want..lol. Witch Doctor have you in the corner cutting your own hair with scissors..we ALL know that. Witch Doctor say now give us some comeback that Jack Benny or Johnny Carson said...
yawn...
Bones never lie.

Stepchild_nFL writes:

Free Whiskey

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Stepchild_nFL:

Free Whiskey

Witch Doctor say "Popcorn" Sutton appreciation day? lol
Bones never lie.

imw8n4u writes:

I agree with most of the comments, at least the ones that aren't pissing matches. The student section has had massive empty sections since the first season they started charging extra for seats. I can't believe what is so obvious to everyone flies right over the head of those in charge. A precursor to any decision regarding students should be: don't do anything that could result in fewer college students at a college game on a college campus, period!

Stepchild_nFL writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say "Popcorn" Sutton appreciation day? lol
Bones never lie.

"Pancakes" Fulmer appreciation Day! Whoopee!

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Stepchild_nFL:

"Pancakes" Fulmer appreciation Day! Whoopee!

Witch Doctor say DUCK!!!! Incoming!!! lol.
Bones never lie.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features