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Year Opened: 1921 | Field Surface: Natural Grass
Neyland Stadium opened in 1921 as Shields-Watkins Field in honor of Col. W.S. Shields, a Tennessee trustee, and his wife, Alice Watkins-Shields.
In 1962 the facility's name was changed to Neyland Stadium in honor of General Robert R. Neyland, who coached the Volunteers from 1926 to 1952 and then served as athletic director until his death in 1962. Under Neyland's guidance, the stadium saw numerous additions and expansions.
Neyland Stadium is the third-largest stadium in the NCAA and drew a record crowd of 109,061 for a 2004 game against Florida.
It took just 10 minutes to write perhaps the most famous song in Tennessee. Felice and Boudleaux Bryant's "Rocky Top" was penned in 1967 at the Gatlinburg Inn and became a major hit when first played at halftime of the 1972 Alabama-Tennessee game. More than 100 renditions of "Rocky Top" have been recorded and fans likely will hear it played that many times at a home game. It was adopted as the official state song in 1984.
Almost as famous as good ol' "Rocky Top" is the orange and white checkerboard end zones at Neyland Stadium. The design started when coach Doug Dickey arrived in 1964. The checkerboard lasted four years until artificial turf replaced the grass field. It was reinstated in 1989 and has been part of Tennessee football ever since. Dickey started another Tennessee tradition in 1965, when he had his team's bench moved from the east side of the field to the west and the Vols ran through a giant "T" that was formed by the school's band. The Vols also have been known to run through the "T" at opposing stadiums.
Elvis Presley might have made "Hound Dog" a hugely popular tune in 1956, but the best "Houn' Dog" in Tennessee is Smokey, the bluetick coonhound that has served as the school's live and costumed mascot since 1953, when it was selected in a student poll.
The Volunteer Navy happened by accident, as the story goes, when Vols broadcaster George Mooney took his boat down the Tennessee River in 1962 to avoid traffic getting to Neyland Stadium. Now more than 200 boats have turned the "Vol Navy" into one of the biggest and more unique tailgating scenes in the country.
Source: University of Tennessee
Curt Maggitt Talks Return to Vols
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