Fans getting ready for the ‘New’ Southern Heritage Classic

Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 7:22 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It’s Classic time in Memphis!

This year, Tennessee State is taking on a new opponent—the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff.

Southern Heritage Classic officials are expecting about 30,000 fans inside the stadium for the game, but even more to party on Tiger Lane for tailgating.

Tennessee State has a strong presence in Memphis, but there’s a new kid in town.

After 29 years of a sea of blue at the Southern Heritage Classic, enter the era of Gold and Black.

By early Friday afternoon, there were 15 UAPB RVs parked on Tiger Lane with the “Arkansas Roaring Lions RV Club.”

Organizers say they expect even more RVs to arrive by Friday night.

Arkansas Rolling Lions RV Club
Arkansas Rolling Lions RV Club(Action News 5)

The club’s president Gregory Summers says the club follows the team and was thrilled when it was announced they could add Memphis to their calendar.

“I think it’s awesome. I want to know why we haven’t been here before! But I understand Tennessee State and Jackson State is a serious rivalry, but UAPB is happy to be here this year,” said Summers.

While the Mid-South is getting to know UAPB, Tennessee State fans are old pros when it comes to the Classic.

“Well, today we’re glad it’s a new era,” said Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover.

UAPB mascot and cheerleaders
UAPB mascot and cheerleaders(Action News 5)

Tennessee State has been playing in the Classic since the early 1990s and has built a solid relationship with the Bluff City.

“It’s a recruiting tool for us, fertile recruiting ground,” said TSU Athletic Director Mikki Allen.

Friday afternoon, TSU cheerleaders and the team’s mascot were highlighted during a pep rally at Whitehaven High School.

While the Golden Lions have their own proud Memphis alumni base, they hope to see it grow to the level of Tennessee State with their new rivalry in this celebration of Black colleges.

“That’s the HBCU spirit. Classics are just like homecomings, so we’re glad to be here this year,” said Summers.

Whitehaven High School pep rally ahead of the 2023 Southern Heritage Classic
Whitehaven High School pep rally ahead of the 2023 Southern Heritage Classic(Action News 5)

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