When Tennessee takes on Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2016, via The Associated Press, not only will it be a sight to behold, but it should also be the first step in a new direction for college football.
Sure, many of the top programs in the sport already play at some of the best venues around. However, an opportunity like this can only benefit college football in the long run.
Did we mention, the legendary raceway seats 150,000?
Currently, the college football record for attendance is 115,109. It was set last month at Michigan Stadium when the Wolverines hosted Notre Dame.
It could be monumental for college football.
The only question is this: Why don’t we see more out-of-the-box thinking like this?
For years, sports have experimented with unique venues for contests.
In the NHL, the Winter Classic was established in 2008, which saw hockey teams play games outside. The venues included: Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Heinz Field and even Michigan Stadium.
Tennis has experimented with courts in water and on top of helipads while Grand Central Terminal in New York City once hosted a squash tournament. Heck, back in 2011, college basketball giants North Carolina and Michigan State tipped-off aboard an Aircraft Carrier with President Barack Obama in attendance.
OK, college football has dabbled in playing games on baseball fields, including Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium. However, how is that any different than when the Miami Dolphins and Florida Marlins both called Sun Life Stadium home from 1993 to 2011?
We want something new.
Bristol Motor Speedway provides just that.
While it makes sense to host a game between the Hokies and Volunteers—the racetrack practically sits on the state line of Virginia and Tennessee—it would be nice to see this become more than just a one-time thing. Whether it’s hosting a rematch between these two down the road, a conference title game or the national championship itself; football needs to become a frequent visitor to one of NASCAR’s most-storied tracks.
But what are some other options?
Back in July, Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III expressed interest in hosting other sports at the venue such as football, basketball and hockey.
The racetrack, made famous by the Daytona 500, once sat 162,000 at capacity. However, that number is expected to shrink to 101,000 following the completion of a $400-million renovation set to be completed in January of 2016.
How about college football in England?
London’s Wembley Stadium, which has hosted several NFL contests since 2007, would be another cool option. The venue currently seats 90,000 at capacity.
Given the NFL’s success overseas, it would be interesting to host a college football matchup there. One would think Notre Dame would almost have to be included.
Either way, this is a plan that has worked for other sports and will work for college football in 2016.
Fans of college football are arguably the most passionate fans in all of sports. They would flock at the chance to see their favorite teams at some of the most historic venues across the world.
Continuing this is really a no-brainer.