KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Charlotte Sports Foundation announced Tuesday that the Tennessee Volunteers will open the 2018 season on September 1 against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers. All information related to kickoff date, time and tickets will be announced at a later date. This will be the initial game between the schools on the gridiron and Tennessee's first-ever game in Charlotte.
"We are excited to formally announce our game with West Virginia in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2018," said Dave Hart, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics at Tennessee. "Will Webb and his staff manage a first-class operation. Playing in this venue and in a key recruiting footprint was very appealing to us. The respective fan bases will create an electric atmosphere."
The game in 2018 will also mark the third neutral site game in a four-year span for the Vols. Tennessee opens the 2015 season at LP Field in Nashville against UAB on Sept. 5, and the "Battle at Bristol" features the Vols against Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 10, 2016, a game that will attempt to break the all-time attendance record for a football game.
"The game in Charlotte presents a tremendous opportunity for our football program to play against a quality opponent in West Virginia in a first-class NFL venue," said Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones. "The Charlotte area is in close proximity to many of our fans, and the state of North Carolina is a key component in our recruiting efforts. We very much look forward to such a unique opportunity for our student-athletes and our program."
The game will mark the 28th overall in the state of North Carolina. The Vols have not played in the state in 53 years, since a 22-21 loss to North Carolina on Nov. 4, 1961.
The Charlotte Sports Foundation, a non-profit organization, runs the Belk Bowl and serves as the local organizing committee for the Dr. Pepper ACC Football Championship Game. The foundation's mission is to create, recruit and execute high-caliber athletic events. In addition to adding new highly visible participatory events and elevating existing ones, the foundation also works to secure additional professional, collegiate and amateur events that will enrich Charlotte's sports landscape.
"We are very excited to announce that the University of Tennessee and West Virginia University will be playing in Charlotte to kickoff the 2018 college football season," said Will Webb, Executive Director of the Charlotte Sports Foundation. "This will be a tremendous game featuring the SEC and Big 12. Both Tennessee and West Virginia have very active, supportive fan bases. And Charlotte is a premier location between the two schools. This game offers local, regional and national attraction. We are proud to bring this marquee matchup to the Queen City and look forward to hosting the Volunteer and Mountaineer teams and fans in Charlotte."
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @larryfleming44)