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It's Football Time in Tennessee: What you need to know for the Vols' season opener

The Tennessee Vols will take on Ball State on Thursday at 7 p.m.


It's game day! The University of Tennessee Volunteers will be taking on the Ball State Cardinals at Neyland Stadium for their season opener on Sept. 1.

How Can I Watch the Game?

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. If you can't make it in person, the game will air on the SEC Network. 

Vol Walk 

It wouldn't be game day with the Vol Walk! The first of the season will begin at 4:45 p.m. on Thursday with plenty of fanfare. Expect large crowds to line the streets from Circle Park to Neyland. 

The team will walk and greet fans from the Torchbearer statue in Circle Park off Volunteer Boulevard, down Peyton Manning Pass, and onto Phillip Fulmer Way. The team will enter the stadium at Gate 21A. 

The Pride of the Southland Band will play its way to the stadium starting around 5:20 p.m. Stating at the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, the band will march up Volunteer Boulevard past Peyton Manning Pass, turning at the Haslam College of Business to head down the pedestrian bridge before marching onto Phillip Fulmer Way, stopping to perform "Salute to the Hill" before heading into Gate 21.

Where do I park?

The earlier you can make your way to downtown Knoxville, the better. Parking fills up fast on game days, and most parking on UT's campus is limited to those with parking passes. 

UT has created a map of permit parking areas at this link. Non-permit public parking is also available on campus for $40 at the UT Culinary Institute and Creamery across from Sorority Village.

If you don't have a parking permit, downtown Knoxville has a number of parking garages and street spots available. You can find a map of garages and parking areas in the downtown area at this link. Free parking is available at the Market Square and State Street garages, but the rest will cost $10 to $20 when the city converts to special event parking rates starting at 3 p.m. Thursday. 

Limited free ADA/accessible parking is available on the UT Agriculture Campus along Joe Johnson Drive on a first-come, first-served basis. A valid accessible parking placard or license plate is required to park in those spots.

KAT's game day shuttles will not be running on Thursday. UT said taxis and ride-sharing services are directed to drop people off in front of the Claxton Education Building and pick people up at Circle Drive on The Hill.

You can find more information about game day parking at this link.

What's New This Year?

There are two big changes this year to game days at Neyland. 

The first concerns how ticketing works because UT has moved to a digital ticketing and parking pass system. 

Before you head out on game day, you should follow these steps to make sure the process will run as smoothly as possible. If you wait until you are at the stadium to prepare your digital tickets, UT said you could run into technical issues due to crowded cellular service or spotty Wi-Fi:

  1. Download the Tennessee Athletics app on your smartphone
  2. Go to the top left corner, select My Tickets, and sign in to your Ticket Master account
  3. Select the game you are attending
  4. Scroll over until you find the ticket you want to use
  5. Add it to your Apple/Google Wallet or any other similar app

If you do not own a smartphone, then you will need to head to the box office to get help.

The second change is that the stadium is undergoing a makeover. The first look at those makeovers debuts Thursday, which features new videoboards in the north and south end zones. The V-O-L-S letters are also back at Neyland for the first time in many years -- you can't miss them!

Credit: WBIR

The north end zone also sports a new premium area that has a sports bar feel with a wraparound bar and drink area. The deck will have local craft beer on tap that will rotate through the season, as well as a walk-through market with self-checkout. Special tickets are required to access the North End Zone Social Deck.

You can find more game day policies and tips on UT's website and on VisitKnoxville.com.   

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