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Tennessee Traditions, Neyland Navigation and Other Gameday Tips

Published Aug 10, 2019 / by Keith Hanson / Discussing Neyland Stadium

Dedicated Vols fans know that Saturdays in Knoxville begin long before kickoff. With more than 100,000 fans packing Neyland Stadium for Tennessee football, downtown Knoxville becomes an orange and white checkerboard. Knowing how to navigate parking, tailgating and UT traditions is an essential piece for nailing gameday.

neyland stadium checkerboard
The checkerboard tradition at Neyland Stadium starts long before kickoff

Neyland Stadium Parking

So you want to park close to Neyland Stadium on a Saturday afternoon during the heat of the SEC schedule? Unfortunately, so do tens of thousands of other people. If you're trying to figure out parking on Saturday morning or Friday night, it might already be too late.

University of Tennessee Campus Options

To the single-game fan, options on campus are limited. According to the UT Parking and Transit Services, 90% of on-campus parking is given to season ticketholders and donors. These fans have parking permits - and have probably had them for years.

So what do you do if you don't have one of those golden tickets?

Try Getting Lucky - The other 10% of on-campus parking spots are up-for-grabs at the Visitor Center, the Old Sports Bubble and at the S12 lot on the corner of Caledonia and Lake. These lots typically open at 7 am and the S12 lot has a grand total of 43 spots. As we said, you might have to get lucky.

s12 parking lot tennessee
We counted 43 spots at the S12 parking lot - one of three on-campus options

Consider Other Public Parking - UT lists a few options ranging in price from FREE to $40. Some of these come with shuttle service, while others simply require a long walk.

Find an Empty Yard - Not just any empty yard - preferably one where they have a Pay-to-Park sign. Set the GPS to Neyland Stadium and once you get within two miles you'll start seeing homemade signs for parking. The closer you get, the more expensive it will be. Expect to pay about $20 for a middling matchup and north of $60 when the big boys come to town (UGA, Alabama, Florida). 

Buy an Online Pass - SpotHero, ParkWhiz and even our own website occasionally have Tennessee Parking Passes for sale. These are usually in high demand and sell out quickly.

Rideshare - Great option if you're tailgating. Pickup and drop-off is on Volunteer Blvd East near the Education Building. 

Tailgating for a Vols Game

You've had the tickets for months, and you finally secured a parking spot. As a bonus, the Vols just announced that yours is a night game. This is going to be epic! Now it's time to figure out the tailgate. Here are our top five tips for tailgating at a Tennessee Football game:

1) Arrive at least three hours early (longer is better)
2) Bring a bottle of Jack Daniel's (one per person)*
3) Build in some exploration time (see pre-game traditions below)
4) Reserve multiple spaces for a bigger crowd
5) Don't forget to go to the game!

*make sure your lot allows liquor!

tennessee football band pregame

Feel like you need a bit of help? Tailgate Tennessee can help you out. You still need to supply the food and drink, but you'll get a dedicated spot near the stadium with the ability to load and un-load conveniently. 

Tennessee Pre-Game Traditions

Whether it's your first game at Neyland Stadium or your fiftieth, there's a good chance you're going to want to check out each of the school's proud traditions. We recommend picking out one each visit and carving out time to take it all in. 

Starting two hours and fifteen minutes (that's 9:45 for a noon game) before kickoff, the Vol Walk is Tennesse's pep rally that dates back to 1990. Think of it as a Vol-themed parade that's perfect for first-comers and families. Make your way towards Peyton Manning Pass about thirty minutes before the Walk starts and don't be shy with the photos!

tennessee football bridge

Did we mention that Neyland Stadium is within spitting distance of the Tennessee River? The river is a boating haven and more than 200 boaters set anchor on gameday as part of the Vol Navy. According to the Vol Navy's Boater's Association, the first boat to tie up for a Vols game was more than 50 years ago. It's a bit more organized today (no more tying up boats to a tree), and fans flock to the river's edge to take in a glimpse of the festivities.

Check out a YouTube video of this last can't-miss tradition. Even a video dating back to 2007 can't stop the Pride of the Southland and their Salute to the Hill.

Tennessee Football Gate Times

All gates for Vols football games open two hours prior to kickoff. We recommend being to your gate at least 45 minutes before kickoff. As with all SEC schools, Tennessee has a strict entry and security policy. Security strongly enforces its clear bag policy and will confiscate prohibited items.