Battle at Bristol Part 2; Football coming back to BMS

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Jan 22, 2018 at 9:25 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith and Bristol Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Jerry Caldwell confirmed Monday plans for another football game to come to BMS.

No dates have been set and talks are ongoing with multiple college athletic programs for a future game.

“We’re working on it,” Smith said Monday at the NASCAR Media Tour. “Jerry Caldwell is working hard on it. I would say that another game will be coming at some point and you need to call the ticket office and get on the list.”

Caldwell added: “We will have another football game, absolutely. Right now, there aren’t any details to be released, but we are continuing to have more good conversations and we are going to play football.”

Tennessee defeated Virginia Tech 45-24 in the first installment of the Battle at Bristol on Sept. 10, 2016 in front of 156,990, the largest crowd ever to see a football game live. It shattered the previous NCAA attendance record for a game between Michigan and Notre Dame by over 40,000.

A week later, East Tennessee State beat Western Carolina 34-31 in front of an ETSU school-record crowd of 13,863.

Caldwell didn’t rule out the possibility of an NFL game at the speedway, which hosted the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins in 1961. Most of the interest and talks at this point, however, have been with college programs.

“We’re open to any of that and have had conversations, but we’re more focused on college (football) right now.” Caldwell said.

The 2016 game was part of a video package to highlight the different events at Speedway Motorsports facilities. Besides the game itself, BMS hosted the largest ESPN College Gameday in the history of the show.

“It really was amazing and a testament to a lot of people working hard and working together towards a common goal,” Caldwell said. “It was a special, special event. We can do the same thing again and we said at the time that motorsports would be our core, but we will be a multi-event facility. Building Colossus has helped us do that and have some other conversations.”

Smith added: “We love to innovate and break the mold and do new things. My dad started doing that when he built the (Charlotte Motor) Speedway in 1959. I guess it’s in our blood and it’s fun.”

Smith did not comment on recent reports of his family being part of a group to buy the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. He was at the speedway to promote the new layout of the track’s oval with an infield road course — which will be the first race of the 2018 NASCAR playoffs.

“I’m really focused on NASCAR today,” Smith said. “I’m talking about our oval and our other improvements at our facilities.”

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