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Tennessee Sells Naming Rights To Thompson-Boling Arena

Admiral Schofield
Tennessee basketball’s Thompson Boling Arena. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/ Tennessee Athletics.

Thompson-Boling Arena is reportedly getting a new name. Tennessee sold the naming rights of its basketball arena to Food City, ESPN’s Pete Thamel first reported Wednesday morning.

The home to the Vols and Lady Vols basketball team is now Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center. Food City bought the naming rights for the arena for 10 years as part of a deal that exceeds $20 million.

With the $20 million-plus, Tennessee plans on renovating its on-campus arena including updates to the interior and exterior of the arena. The university’s release states that upgrades will come with new club amenities, updates to the Ray Mears Room and a new video board.

“We are thrilled to partner with Food City on this transformative naming rights opportunity, the first of its kind for Tennessee Athletics,” Tennessee Director of Athletics Danny White said in a statement. “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.”

Thompson-Boling Arena has been the home to Tennessee’s men’s and women’s basketball teams since its opening in 1987. It has held the same name for its first 36 years. The arena is also the home to the Tennessee volleyball team who started playing games there in 2008.

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Tennessee’s home basketball arena is the fourth biggest in college basketball and holds a capacity crowd of 21,678.

“I’ve long said that Thompson-Boling Arena gives us an elite homecourt advantage, and Food City clearly recognizes that,” Tennessee men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes said in a statement. “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.

It’s the first time a corporate sponsor has bought the naming rights for a Tennessee athletic stadium or arena though the Vols left the door open for Lindsey Nelson Stadium to be renamed in their announced renovation plans earlier this summer.

Corporate sponsors have become more-and-more popular at colleges in recent years. Tennessee has been just as active sticking its hand in the pot, selling additional advertisements at Neyland Stadium. But the name change to the school’s basketball arena is the first massive corporate sponsor placement.

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