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Pregame Showcase Lecture Series Takes a Time-out

From 1990 through fall 2014, the College of Arts and Sciences successfully hosted the Pregame Showcase in the Carolyn P. Brown Memorial University Center. The program featured lectures by outstanding faculty two hours before home football games. The location was centrally located on campus and the university center’s food service venues attracted Vol fans without tailgating plans. Vol fans arrived on campus early (two hours before kick-off) to hear the lecture and participate in the reception following the lecture, and still had plenty of time to get to their seats in the stadium before kick-off.

When the university center was closed and the building was razed to make way for new construction, the college administration searched for a new location for the program in fall 2015 and found what appeared to be an optimal location—McClung Museum in Circle Park. The McClung Museum staff welcomed the program and became strong supporting partners. Some Pregame Showcase fans followed the program to its new location; however, many did not. The audience total for the season was 363, an average attendance of fifty-two per game, which was remarkable considering the change in venue. However, the total attendance was still dramatically down from the 2014 season attendance total of 571 and an average attendance of 71.

Many Vol fans who had regularly attended the Pregame Showcase program were discouraged by the challenge of having to make their way through the crowd of enthusiastic tailgaters in the congested Circle Park area, and then through the museum to the downstairs auditorium meeting space for the program.

Prior to the last game, an elevation of national security concerns prompted UT Athletics to require fans to arrive at the gate thirty minutes earlier to accommodate additional security checks. This policy posed an additional challenge for the Pregame Showcase audience. With Pregame Showcase beginning two hours before kick-off and ending an hour later for those who participate in the reception, there was less time for Pregame Showcase guests to meet the earlier arrival time at the gates for increased security checks.

At the conclusion of the 2015 season, and after consultation with long-standing supporters of the Pregame Showcase, the college administration made the call to suspend the program until Phase II of the construction of the Student Union is completed in 2018. At that time the Pregame Showcase can once again be hosted in the Student Union—a less congested and central part of campus with easier access for those who wish to attend Pregame Showcase rather than tailgating.