Up To 10,000 Cougar Fans Expected At Neyland Stadium For Tennessee Game
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Volunteers often fill their hundred thousand-seat Neyland Stadium with a sea of orange and white. With BYU in town, there will be a lot of blue sprinkled in, with as many as 10,000 Cougar fans expected to be in attendance.
In addition to the regular allotment of tickets available to BYU, the Nashville Chapter of the Alumni Foundation partnered with Tennessee to get an allotment of 3,500 tickets to the game.
“As soon as we launched the ticket sales, within just a few hours we had sold several hundred tickets,” said Erika Bailey who oversees the Nashville Chapter. “As soon as those tickets went on sale, people were just snatching them up.”
“We sold out of our 3,500 before August,” says Seth Killingbeck. “We’re expecting 10,000-plus [fans], maybe. It’s hard to say, but it wouldn’t surprise me.”
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) September 6, 2019
Killingbeck sits on the BYU Alumni Board of Directors and oversees the Southeast Region of the country, which is home to 20,000 BYU alumni.
The chapter is the same that organized a successful tailgate in 2014 before the Cougar’s game against Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, just 35 miles south of Nashville.
Thousands of fans turned out to Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium on a cold November day, despite BYU going into the game with a four-game losing streaking. Cougar faithful far outnumbered Blue Raiders fans in the stands.
Five years later, fans aren’t the only ones excited to see the Cougars back in Tennessee. The team is excited for the trip, as well.
“It’s another opportunity for us to be out in this region for our fans,” said BYU head coach Kalani Sitake. “Our fans are all over the place and so I imagine a good number of fans here watching this game.”
— Sam Farnsworth (@SFarnsworthKSL) September 5, 2019
A lot of alumni have waited patiently for the Cougars to make the trip to Knoxville.
“We’ve been hoping for it a long time,” said Knoxville-based alum, Jennifer Hughes, “I’ve lived here almost 25 years and so I’ve been waiting for this to happen. At the announcement, we were excited to cheer on the Cougars even if we live in Knoxville. I like UT, but I’ll be cheering for BYU in this game.”
Hughes wasn’t the only one who cheers for the Volunteers on a part-time basis. Bailey will be in a divided household on Saturday.
“My husband is a UT alum, I’m a BYU alum, but has been a great opportunity for us to show our true blue spirit in Tennessee,” she said.
Enter To Learn, Go Forth To Serve
Saturday won’t just be about the action on the gridiron for many of these fans. The BYU Alumni Association is hosting a tailgate event for fans at nearby World’s Fair Park in Knoxville. While the event is meant to provide fun, pregame festivities for fans, it also has a greater purpose.
“We decided to link up with a local charity – it’s called KARM: Knox Area Rescue Ministries” said Killingbeck. “We’re donating food, cans, and coats to a group here and really are just trying to make a positive impact in Knoxville. This is BYU’s first time out here, we want to let them know who we are and what we are.”
Seth Killingbeck, Board of Directors for #BYU Alumni Association (over the Southeastern U.S.) tells @zakhicken that they are expecting close to 10,000 BYU fans for tomorrow’s game vs Tennessee. @kslsports @BYUfootball #kslsports pic.twitter.com/IqY29WrdWM
— Sam Farnsworth (@SFarnsworthKSL) September 7, 2019
The idea stem’s from BYU’s school motto.
“Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve,” said Bailey. “The Tennessee fans are really interested to see that we’re more interested than just winning a football game. We want to leave a positive impact on the community, especially here in Knoxville.”
They do it because of their love for their alma mater.
“We love, Kalani, we love the team, we love BYU. We’re doing it for them,” said Killingbeck. “We’re proud to be alumni of BYU.”
Proceeds from the tailgate party go back to BYU students from Tennessee in the form of scholarships.
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