KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – Thompson-Boling Arena is getting a new name and a makeover as part of a partnership between the University of Tennessee and Food City, according to Athletics Director Danny White.
White made the announcement Wednesday, saying Thompson-Boling Arena will be known as Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center. It’s all part of a 10-year, $20 million agreement to help fund the athletic department.
“We are thrilled to partner with Food City on this transformative naming rights opportunity, the first of its kind for Tennessee Athletics,” said White. “Food City is a neighborhood partner who knows our state and region extremely well and has been a key partner for Tennessee Athletics for nearly 30 years. Food City is a valued member of our community and bleeds orange, and we look forward to taking this partnership to another level. I want to thank the Smith family, as well as the Food City team for this long-term partnership.”
That money will go towards upgrading the arena, which has been open since 1987. Those upgrades will include new club amenities, updates to the Ray Mears Room and a new center-hung video board.
The outside of the stadium is getting a facelift, too, White announced. He said the outside of the venue will be “modernized and the look will be more in line with Tennessee’s other athletics venues.”
Tennessee’s coaches are looking forward to the updates as well. Men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes thanked Food City for the support of Tennessee Athletics.
“I’ve long said that Thompson-Boling Arena gives us an elite homecourt advantage, and Food City clearly recognizes that,” Barnes said. “This is an extraordinary commitment by a wonderful partner that will not just elevate Tennessee gamedays, but it’s an investment that will also enhance the student-athlete experience across all our sports. We appreciate Food City for stepping up and supporting Tennessee Athletics in a way that is truly transformational.”
The women’s team is also planning to benefit from the partnership, Coach Kellie Harper said.
“Tennessee Athletics is fortunate to have an amazing relationship with a community-oriented company like Food City,” Harper said. “They have a legacy of support for our student-athletes, coaches and programs, and their latest commitment illustrates an incredible investment toward competitive excellence by the Vols and Lady Vols. Pairing Thompson-Boling Arena, our teams and the best fan base in the country with Food City is a winning combination.”
Volleyball head coach Eve Rackham Watt also commented on the deal.
“Thompson-Boling Arena has been a special place to play, and home to the best fan base in college sports,” Watt said. “We are really excited about this new partnership with Food City and believe it will continue to push Tennessee volleyball forward. All of us are excited to get in the arena this fall and start competing.”
The first event to take place in the newly-renamed Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center will be the Tennessee volleyball program’s season-opener against Texas State in the Tennessee Classic on Friday, Aug. 25.
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