A couple of days ago I got a letter that I had been dreading for a couple of years. No, it wasn’t the birthday card from the AARP congratulating me on my upcoming 50th birthday (more on thatlater)–it was the letter from the University of Tennessee Athletic Department telling me that my seats in Neyland Stadium would soon be eradicated in the name of progress.
Now I know that a few of you will laugh when I say that this news made me cry. But I know that fellow members of the Big Orange Nation understand.
A little history…
Neyland Stadium wasn’t always the 106,000 seat behemoth that it is today. I won’t go through all the iterations, but 40 or so years ago when the first upper deck was built (the side closest to you in this photo), my father bought several seats. Two of those seats are mine today. They are on the 35 yard line on the top row under the press box.
When the sun is shining, I’m in the shade. When the rain is falling, I’m in the dry.
Back in those days, you could see downtown Knoxville, the old buildings on The Hill, the river and, on especially clear days, the Smokys. Over time, the stadium has gotten bigger and bigger and most of those views are gone. And now, in the name of improvements, my seats will be gone too. Replaced by the Tennessee Terrace at a cost that is no longer in my budget. Seats in this new area will cost me thousands. And, as much as I hate to say it, it’s just not worth it.
I will say, though, that I have a few options. Without having to pay more, I can move to other areas, some of which are not bad options. But I just don’t know. I don’t have to decide right now.
This weekend I’m going to the home opener with a friend. I’ll sit in my same seats that I’ve had all these years. I’ll yell when they run through the T, I’ll sing Rocky Top about a hundred times. I’ll eat an overpriced, terrible hot dog. I’ll be jubilant if they win. Catatonic if they lose. And even though I’m pissed that my seats are going away so the university can scrape up a few more million or billion dollars, it’s still my school.
And it’s FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!!!