OPINION: Battle At Bristol Will Revolutionize The Sports Worldby Hunter Thomas January 28, 2016
The sports world will be changed forever when the Virginia Tech Hokies take on the University of Tennessee Volunteers in the Pilot Flying J Battle at Bristol on Saturday, September 10. At least that’s what I think will happen when the two teams go head-to-head at the Last Great Colosseum.
Ever since NASCAR was founded in 1948, racetracks have always been trying to find the next big thing to entertain its fans and partners before the drivers climb into their cars and battle it out for hundreds of miles. Whether it’s concerts performed by superstars or epic pre-race stunt shows and military displays, the folks inside the front offices of these facilities have always tried to up each other.
The football game featuring the rivaled ACC vs. SEC match up set to get underway at Bristol Motor Speedway later this year is so much more than just upping the ante on entertainment. I believe that it has the ability to completely change the way racetracks will be operated. Sure, not every racetrack can host a football game, and yes, other sporting events have been played on battleships and other unique venues, but a racetrack of Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) or International Speedway Corporation (ISC) caliber has the resources to sustain sporting events that attract hundreds of thousands of fans.
The Virginia Tech vs. University of Tennessee matchup on September 10 is set to be the largest attended game in college football history. There will be a projected 150,000 fans seated inside the half-mile track watching the two teams duel it out in the Last Great Colosseum. Not only that, but the following week on Saturday, September 17, East Tennessee State University will host Western Carolina University at Bristol Motor Speedway. So, before the first whistle is even blown, the racetrack already has two games lined up for this year’s upcoming season, offering fans a fresh, new way to enjoy football.
Let me throw one more idea your way. Instead of shining the spotlight on national televised events that involve an enormous amount of partners and cooperation from many parties, what about high school match ups at racetracks? Those particular events wouldn’t take near as much preparation as a collegiate event. Plus, many racetracks are already trying to figure out how to appeal to the younger generation. What better way to do so then to bring the college and the high school to the racetrack.
Now, say what you want, but I really believe that a new chapter in sports history is about to be written. Who knows? Maybe the next event will be a Duke vs. University of North Carolina basketball game played at Charlotte Motor Speedway, or how about a Florida State University vs. University of Florida football match up on the frontstretch at Daytona International Speedway. Of course, I’d love to see a University of South Carolina vs. Clemson University match up or a Hartsville High School vs. Darlington High School event played at Darlington Raceway.
All I’m saying is that Bristol Motor Speedway is going to attempt something quite amazing, and I hope that other racetracks will pay close attention and try to host similar events in the future.