How Tennessee will handle Vols, Lady Vols tickets for 2020-21 season amid limited capacity
UT announced Thursday it will allocate tickets to season-ticket holders in a descending order based on their Tennessee Fund annual gift amount and donor rank.
Starting Tuesday, donors in descending groups will receive an email from the Tennessee ticket office offering tickets in a specific location. Donors who purchased tickets for both men’s and women’s basketball will receive two separate emails.
Fans will have 24 hours to respond to the email. If no response is received by the deadline, tickets will be considered declined.
“Despite having gone through a similar process for football earlier this fall, the reality that we will be unable to welcome all of our ticket holders into Thompson-Boling Arena this basketball season remains saddening,” Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer said in a school release.
Fans who purchased season tickets have the option to opt in, meaning they want seats, or they have three opt-out options. Those who purchased season tickets are not guaranteed that they will be allocated seats nor allocated their expected seats, if offered.
Regardless of whether fans accept or decline tickets for the upcoming season, everyone who purchased season tickets will retain their status and seats of choice for 2020-21 when the 2021-22 renewal process begins.
Seats will be assigned to create at least a six-foot buffer between groups and will not include the first four rows of seating in the lower bowl. SEC indoor event recommendations call for a 12-foot buffer zone between essential personnel in and around the playing floor.
Quantity caps will be placed on most donor accounts with eight tickets as the maximum, but most receiving four or two or their previous allocation, whichever is fewer. Tennessee does not plan to sell single-game tickets aside from student tickets and any tickets distributed to the opposing team that are returned.
“There’s no easy way to adjust to the circumstances we find ourselves in,” Fulmer said. “But we’ve been thoughtful and deliberate in attempting to offer attendance opportunities to as many of our season-ticket holders as possible while also maintaining the safest arena environment possible.”
Tennessee has sold more than 14,000 season tickets for men’s basketball. Thompson-Boling Arena’s capacity is 21,678.
UT emailed basketball season-ticket holders in October giving the option to opt in or opt out for the coming season. Those who indicated they would attend will be divided into groups based on their Tennessee Fund annual gift and rank order.
After each group's deadline passes, tickets will be assigned and offered to the next donor group. UT will start with active donors, then non-donor season-ticket holders and continue down its tiers. This process will continue until ticket offers are provided to all active Tennessee Fund donors or the adjusted capacity is reached.
The group email process could take up to a week.
How much will tickets cost?
Season tickets will cost the same as in a typical season.
The final schedules for both teams have yet to be finalized.
The only established men’s game is against Kansas on Jan. 30 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Tennessee is expected to host a multi-team event starting Nov. 25 featuring Charlotte and VCU. Each team would play two games.
Tennessee indicated the Vols will host “a handful of nonconference games” and an expected nine SEC games.
The Lady Vols are expected to host UConn, which is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2021, among its nonconference games and eight SEC games.
What happens if fans opt out of tickets?
Those who decline season tickets will receive an email outline three options for their tickets and donation funds linked to the account.
- Donate the 2020 ticket payment and donation to the Tennessee Fund as a tax-deductible contribution.
- Carry over their 2020 ticket payment and donation for the 2021-22 basketball season.
- Receive a refund for the price of their tickets and donation, if applicable.
What about premium seating?
Suites are included in the total expected attendance. There will be no suite-hopping allowed, and 100 percent capacity is permitted at the discretion of the suite-holder.
Will students and opposing fans have tickets?
Tickets will be allocated for both students and opposing fans, the latter receiving 80 tickets per game. Both are part of the total expected attendance.
Students will occupy section 129 for both men’s and women’s games. Students also will be in sections 128 and 130 for men’s games. The men’s student section previously was split between 129 and behind-the-basket seating.
The Office of Student Life will oversee ticket allocation and physical distancing within the student seating. Students can request single-game tickets via bigorangetix.utk.edu.
What can be expected from the gameday process and experience?
Some elements of basketball game days will remain the same, while others will change.
Gates are still expected to open 90 minutes before tipoff for men’s games and 60 minutes for women’s games. Tennessee shifted to digital-only tickets for all its athletic events on July 1.
Face coverings are required to enter Thompson-Boling Arena and must cover the nose and mouth. They must remain in place at all time unless actively eating or drinking.
The floor layout will shift this season, as benches will be on the south side of Thompson-Boling Arena. Benches previously were on the north side.
Whether the band and artificial crowd noise will be allowed at basketball games has yet to be determined.
Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.