Tennessee Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Danny White announced a multi-year naming-rights agreement with longtime Tennessee Athletics corporate champion Food City that rebrands UT’s on-campus arena as Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center.
The agreement with Food City was negotiated by Tennessee Athletics’ multimedia rights partner, LEARFIELD/The Vol Network. Food City’s overall commitment to Tennessee Athletics will allow the University to invest in excess of $20 million over the next 10 years and will aid new and needed renovations of the arena and upgrades to the facility’s interior and exterior. These improvements will significantly enhance the fan experience while attending any Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center event on the UT campus.
Among the planned additions to the venue will include new club amenities, updates to the Ray Mears Room and a state-of-the-art center-hung video board. The exterior façade of the facility will be modernized, and the look will be more in line with Tennessee’s other athletics venues.
Complete details of the enhancements to the venue will be announced at a later date.
“We are thrilled to partner with Food City on this transformative naming rights opportunity, the first of its kind for Tennessee Athletics,” White said. “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.”
Food City’s longstanding commitment to supporting Tennessee Athletics and the department’s mission of leading the way in college sports dates to 1997. The privately held family-owned company is headquartered in Abingdon, Virginia and currently operates 152 retail locations throughout Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, Georgia, and Alabama.
“Food City is proud to be a long-time supporter and the official supermarket of the University of Tennessee Athletics. We’re excited to take our partnership to the next level with the naming of the Food City Center, which will serve as a hub for UT Athletics, as well as other key events within the Knoxville community,” said Steven C. Smith, Food City president and chief executive officer.
Opened in the Fall of 1987, Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center is home to Tennessee’s volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball programs. The arena is named for the late B. Ray Thompson and former UT President Dr. Edward J. Boling.
“I’ve long said that Thompson-Boling Arena gives us an elite homecourt advantage, and Food City clearly recognizes that,” men’s basketball coach Rick 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 venue has undergone multiple phases of renovations throughout its 36-year history, most notably an overhaul in 2007 that included the addition of two levels of premium suites and one level of premium loge seating spanning the arena’s north end.
“Tennessee Athletics is fortunate to have an amazing relationship with a community-oriented company like Food City,” women’s basketball head coach Kellie 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.”
In addition to delivering an incredible homecourt advantage for the Vols and Lady Vols, the facility hosts dozens of highly attended events annually, including concerts featuring world-famous recording artists, professional wrestling showcases, monster truck and professional bull-riding competitions, conferences, and more.
For basketball specifically, Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center stands as one of the country’s biggest and brightest stages for college hoops. Tennessee owns a combined basketball home record of 947-196 (.829)—where the court is named in honor of legendary eight-time national champion head coach Pat Summitt—with the Lady Vols boasting a 508-56 (.901) mark and the Vols going 439-140 (.758).
“Thompson-Boling Arena has been a special place to play, and home to the best fan base in college sports,” volleyball head coach Eve Rackham 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 set to take place in the newly named Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center is the Tennessee volleyball program’s season-opener against Texas State in the Tennessee Classic on Friday, Aug. 25.