Fall the Best Time to See Neyland Stadium, Tennessee Vols’ Home

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There was once a fantastic book, written by a former sports writer, and it chronicled his adventures and misadventures when he hit every single SEC football venue in one season. That sports writer later transitioned into a professional troll and lunatic conspiracy theorist, and thus, we’re not going to plug his book nor his name, which has sadly become a more relevant one since he sold out.

But the chapter on Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, home of the Tennessee Volunteers, was a brilliant read and it was in my mind during my November day on Rocky Top.

You know the song, “Good ol’ Rocky Top! Whew! Rocky Top Tennessee.” There is fall foliage, and then there are the autumn colors that you see in Tennessee and North Carolina in November. This is especially so in the Great Smoky Mountains, the Cherokee National Forest and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

These are fall colors on a level unlike any other, and by the time I got to Knoxville, and the University of Tennessee, the leaves had already fallen to the ground. This added to the effect of seeing Neyland Stadium, not diminished it.

Constructed in 1921, and having underwent 16 expansions since then (with another renovation to come), its official capacity is 102,000+.

Situated on a hill and adjacent to the Tennessee River, it is transcendently scenic. It just oozes natural beauty, especially so in autumn, which is the greatest season of all. You can easily understand why there is a fleet of floating tailgaters, a makeshift booze cruise, on all gamedays.

It’s an extremely interesting place, with a very unique checkerboard pattern in the end zones. This design is made all the more original given the team’s burnt orange and off white color scheme, one that really isn’t utilized anywhere else in sports.

tennessee volunteer cheerleaders

The stadium is named for Robert Neyland, an Army man who reached the rank of Brigadier General, and won four national championships at UT. He also won five SEC championships, and he’s immortalized in a much larger than life statue which welcomes visitors inside one of the main gates.

It’s an extremely detailed statue, one with very defined features on both his face and his uniform. It also comes complete with a selfie station, so it’s a photo-opp that you cannot miss.

Be sure to check out the statue of Smoky, the adorable hound dog mascot of the Vols, as well as the Peyton Manning banner on the west outside concourse.

vols

And again, if you can pick a time to go to Neyland Stadium, do it in autumn!

Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”

He has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and co-hosts the After Extra Time podcastFollow him on Twitter and Instagram

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