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New Ways to Game Day in Downtown Knoxville


Football may look a little different in 2020, but we’re still celebrating with Big Orange Traditions.


This is How You Downtown: Game Day Edition


Gear Up


Why orange and white? The colors were selected by Charles Moore, an 1891 UT football player and approved by a student body vote. Inspired by the American daisy – a flower that grew prominently on The Hill, surrounding iconic Ayres Hall, and overlooking Neyland Stadium – the Tennessee team wore orange jerseys for the first time during the season-opening game in 1922, a 50-0 victory over Emory & Henry.


Now you’ll find game day gear throughout downtown. Nothing Too Fancy has unique Tennessee shirts designed and printed right here in Knoxville, while Earth to Old City, Bliss, and Fruit Jar Alley have adorable orange and white clothes to mix and match into complete game day outfits. And Mast General has everything from UT hats, socks, and purses to men's Power T shorts.


Get in the "Spirit"


Take it from Smokey! In 1953, The UT Pep Club held a contest to select the school's mascot. At halftime of the Mississippi State game, coon hounds were lined up and introduced over the loudspeaker. When the last hound was introduced as "Blue Smokey," he gave an approving bark. Students cheered, Smokey threw back his head, and barked again. The cheers and barks went back and forth until the stadium was in an uproar. Tennessee found its mascot.


To get in the game day spirit, try your hand at making the Big Orange Cocktail from Knox Whiskey Works. It's 2 ounces of their Tailgate Orange Vodka, half a squeeze of lime, and topped with Fresca. If you're in the mood to be social, but socially-distanced, find a patio for a pre or post-game celebration. Knox Whiskey, PostModern Spirits, Sapphire, and Radius Rooftop are great choices if you’re looking for cocktails. And Pour Taproom, Pretentious Beer, Merchants of Beer, and Downtown Grill are must stops if you prefer to cheer with a beer.


Traditions of SEC Football


The SEC was founded right here in Knoxville. It's true! In 1932, the schools from the Southern Conference met in the Farragut Hotel, now the Hyatt Place, to discuss dividing the SoCon into smaller conferences. Schools east and north of the mountains remained in the SoCon, while those to the south and west formed something new: the SEC.


That's just one of many interesting history stories that downtown buildings hold. Come explore the area before or after the game! Grab a treat from Coffee & Chocolate, Ham'n Goodies, or Cruze Farm Ice Cream and find the plaque marking the creation of the SEC at the corner of Gay Street and Clinch Ave. It’s a great photo op for the true SEC fan.


Tailgating in 2020


Welcome to 2020! No Vol Walk, limits on the size of the Vol Navy, and plenty of official game day changes. But there’s still plenty of opportunities to enjoy a Fall game day in the heart of downtown.


Looking for a pre- or post-game meal? Whatever you’re taste, you’ll find it downtown...all within walking distance of Neyland Stadium.


Looking for a spot to watch the game? Drop in vintage sports bar Tommy Trent’s, Gay Street's SkyBox Sports Bar & Grill, or the recently opened Old City Sports Bar. Lots of restaurants in town are sure to have all eyes – and TVs – on UT football. And enjoy a Fall afternoon and panoramic view of Vol Landing from Calhoun's on the River.


Tailgating at home this year? Find plenty of takeout and delivery options…including to-go cocktails to keep that Vol spirits alive! Sweet P's, Balter, Petro’s, and more have takeout that hits the spot for game day cravings, like pulled pork, burgers, wings, potato chip nachos, and Orange sweet tea. So many choices, it's difficult to choose.


UT Traditions + Vol Spirit run deep in Downtown Knoxville. Even in 2020!