ATLANTA, Ga. (WATE) — When you have a stadium like Neyland Stadium it can be tough to play in another stadium, especially if you don’t have to.
The University of Tennessee decided to play at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Georgia for their season opener Monday night. Tennessee has had good luck playing at neutral sites.
To date, the Vols won the last six games at neutral-sites. That’s the longest streak in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Gary Stoken, the Peach Bowl Inc. CEO and President and creator of the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic says Tennessee is an attractive team because of their fan base.
“Their number one alumni base is in Atlanta, Georgia” said Stoken. “It is a huge recruiting base for Tennessee as well and I think for the fans it is an easy trip.”
Georgia is a recruiting hotbed for Tennessee. The Vols have 17 players from GA on the roster, 6 from the Atlanta including Micah Abernathy.
Tennessee will also have a prime-time spot for fans watching from home.
“The payout is big. To be able to play in a big game like this on Labor Day, on ESPN, unopposed TV spot is huge exposure. So I think it is a win-win-win for Tennessee,” said Stoken.
Of course, the venue can’t be beat. Tennessee played at the Chick-Fil-A classic at the Georgia Dome a few years ago, but it will be the first time the team takes the field at the newly built Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which has everything from a 360 degree Halo Board, 100 yard bar on the third floor and great side-lines.
“People told me from Saturday night’s game that it was larger than the Georgia Dome,” said Stoken. “The Georgia Dome is pretty loud.”
Aside from the payout to each University, the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff is also giving $50,000 to each school’s scholarship funds. One-hundred thousands dollars in proceeds from the game will also be donated to Houston, Texas to help those negatively impacted by Hurricane Harvey.