It’s the start of a new football season on Rocky Top as Tennessee enters Josh Heupel’s second season at the head of the program. Although there is hope that this will mark the beginning of long-awaited stability in Knoxville, the University unveiled changes to the fan experience inside Neyland Stadium in the season opener with Ball State on Thursday.
Video Board and Social Deck
In 1999, Neyland Stadium saw its first jumbotron be placed on the south endzone. After over two decades, Tennessee finally debuted a secondary big screen in the north endzone. The new screen gives the stadium a feeling of completion and symmetry that it was missing. Perhaps more importantly, though, fans on the south side no longer had to crane their necks to see a replay.
Along with the video board, a social deck was placed below the screen. The deck requires a separate ticket to enter but aims to capture the feeling of a sports bar inside the stadium. Beer is available for purchase and a unique atmosphere is sure to attract eager fans for years to come.
In 2009, Neyland’s sole video board was replaced and the iconic V-O-L-S letters that prominently stood above the stadium were torn down after being featured since 1966. Fans have clamored for their return in the decade following and finally, they once again perch atop the stands. On either side of the jumbotron in the south endzone, white letters stand out over an orange background spelling out Tennessee’s historic nickname.
As a twist on a timeless classic, the letters were revealed to light up during the Pride of the Southland Band’s halftime performance. The letters would stay lit for the remainder of the game. They also flashed in accordance with the VOLS chant.
This unique flair has become a photo op for many fans and helps make Neyland Stadium stand out from other arenas.
Neyland Night Lights
Last season, Tennessee debuted an LED light show that lit up the field in a variety of colors and provided a modern twist on timeless traditions. At halftime, the lights returned to accentuate the Pride of the Southland Marching Band’s midgame performance. The formations that the band took were emphasized by bright lights as the show progressed. Ultimately, it was finalized with a grand reveal of the V-O-L-S letters lighting up.
The Pride of the Southland Marching Band’s halftime show (featuring a reveal of the light-up V-O-L-S letters): pic.twitter.com/MzNJm2QwYC
— Ryan Sylvia (@RyanTSylvia) September 2, 2022
The lights will continue to be on display throughout the year. For night games that are dark at kickoff, they even light up the historic T formed by the band that the Vols run through. The lights are just another example of how Athletic Director Danny White is pushing the University’s fan experiences forward.
Ryan Sylvia is the Sports Editor at TNJN. He is a senior at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville majoring in journalism and electronic media. Although he spent most of his life being raised outside of Philadelphia, he was born in Knoxville, and he is happy to be back home. Ryan has had a love for sports from an early age, and he found his love for writing in high school while taking journalism classes. He hopes to find a job involving both his passions as a sports journalist after graduation. To reach Ryan, email him at email@example.com