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Thompson-Boling Arena: Quietly one of the most underrated venues in college sports

By: Miguel Detillier

The All Vol Call in Show

Photo | Studio Four Designs

Tennessee may have dominated Tennessee Tech last Friday 103-49, but there is one more thing which makes this win monumental. The Vols get their 400th win at Thompson-Boling Arena.

This venue, located in Phillip Fulmer Way, is quite a wonder for its size. It is the third-largest on-campus basketball arena in the nation. Only the Carrier Dome in Syracuse and the Dean Smith Center in UNC can fill more seats than The Summitt.

The Vols usually do a good job of getting fans excited to see them in their home court. This has the Vols ranked in the nation’s top-20 in attendance for over 16 consecutive seasons. They have even been ranked fourth nationally in average home attendance during the last two seasons. Nobody can deny the loyalty Tennessee fans have for the Vols at TBA.

This loyalty also accounts to the Lady Vols in the same arena. They have finished among the top seven nationally in average home attendance for 26 straight seasons. The Lady Vols have even led the nation in this statistic 18 times since 1994-95. There is no doubt Thompson-Boling Arena was the setting for Tennessee’s championship pedigree and the glory they enjoyed under the late Pat Summitt.

Tennessee has enjoyed plenty of pride playing at Thompson-Boling since 1987, and while the Vols have enjoyed seeing record crowds in men’s and women’s basketball games, they have enjoyed a certain mystique to this arena northwest of the Tennessee River. The mystique is the arena’s court and its baselines. The orange-and-white checkerboard baselines are not only parallel to Neyland Stadium and its end-zones being painted the same pattern, it’s also a tribute to this pattern atop Ayres Hall.

Thompson-Boling Arena has done more than host Vols basketball, men and women. It has even hosted the 1989 SEC Men’s Tournament, the men’s 1990 NCAA Southeast Region first and second-round games, and the 1990 Women’s Final Four. This arena also hosted the Men’s South Regional Final in both 1994 and 1999. As an added bonus, it even hosted an NBA exhibition game in 1988 with the Boston Celtics facing the Washington Bullets. This game attracted a then-record NBA exhibition crowd of 23,611.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the Vols to limit their attendance at Thompson-Boling Arena, it has not diminished the spirit of this arena. Tennessee is more than determined to live up to this spirit with great basketball at the Summitt,


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