• 77°

Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium implements many new features for 100th season

BY NIC MILLER
STAR STAFF
nic.miller@elizabethton.com

For the first time since November 30, 2019, the Tennessee Volunteers were able to hit the gridiron in Neyland Stadium in front of more than 25 percent capacity, the previous maximum capacity set inside the Knoxville stadium for the 2020 college football season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Thursday night marked that special occasion as the Vols squared off against the Falcons of Bowling Green in both their season and home opener. In addition, 2021 marked the 100th Volunteer football season at Neyland Stadium, making things so much sweeter.

The environment was electric, and that may be in part due to the upgraded capacity of the fifth largest stadium in college football, but there were also various other aspects that increased the atmosphere tremendously inside the venue.

The first season back without a reduced capacity brought with it many new features for fans to enjoy, including various lighting effects throughout the game as well as pyrotechnics during the contest.

Before the matchup, and with every score for the Tennessee Volunteers, overhead stadium lighting would transform from a constant white to an exciting strobe filled with both orange and white to celebrate the successful end of a drive.

Touchdowns for the Vols also brought with it an eccentric display of fireworks shot from over the box seats, a finishing touch to the light show.

Thursday’s home opener also included a touching tribute, as the names of all 13 U.S. Marines killed in the Kabul airport attack in Afghanistan, one of whom was a native to Knoxville, were read over the loud speaker.

And to further demonstrate respect towards the fallen soldiers, the conclusion of the National Anthem saw three military Blackhawk helicopters perform a flyover of the stadium.

One major topic of conversation all throughout Knoxville was in regard to guidelines and safety precautions with COVID-19.

The University stated that spectators attending football games at Neyland Stadium this season were encouraged, but not required to wear face coverings on game day.

These guidelines held true on Thursday night, as it was a very high percentage of fans taking advantage of the new rules by cheering on the team they love mask-free.

With things beginning to return to a sense of normalcy, this season for the Volunteers at Neyland Stadium is sure to be a special one.