CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Continuing its quest for high-profile neutral-site games, West Virginia has agreed to face Tennessee in 2018 at the home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
The matchup, in the works for months, was confirmed Tuesday morning by ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, and Belk Bowl officials subsequently slated the game for the opening weekend of Sept. 1, 2018.
The game would mark the Mountaineers’ fifth neutral-site game in seven years—three of those at FedExField in Landover, Md. (vs. James Madison in 2012, BYU in 2016 and Virginia Tech in 2017). The Mountaineers are less than six weeks away from opening the 2014 season against Alabama in Atlanta.
“Our players enjoy playing in NFL Stadiums and this a great matchup for our program,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “We recruit the state of North Carolina and Charlotte is a strong football area. Our fans have always supported us strongly in previous games in Charlotte and I think this is a matchup that they will really enjoy.”
Organizers of neutral-site games typically offer each participating school a chance to earn more revenue than they would from a home date, provided ticket sales meet minimum benchmarks. These games also tend to garner premium television slots.
“We have a lot of fans and alumni living in the Charlotte area, and this is another outstanding game in close proximity that our fans can travel to easily,” said WVU athletics director Oliver Luck.
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, a former West Virginia assistant, is aiming to revive a proud program that suffered late in Phillip Fulmer’s tenure and throughout Derek Dooley’s three-year stint.
“Playing in this venue and in a key recruiting footprint was very appealing to us,” said Tennessee AD Dave Hart. “The respective fan bases will create an electric atmosphere.”
Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, which opened in 1996, seats 73,778.