Friday, January 30, 2009
Courtroom site of battle over UT football tickets
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For years, generations of Thomas Luck's family supported the University of Tennessee and its endeavors. But on Friday, the Nashville lawyer squared off against his alma mater in a Nashville courtroom in a dispute over prime box seats at Neyland Stadium.
In a lawsuit, Luck wants the seating rights that were given to his father in 1961. The two box seats, which Luck says are the best in the stadium, are on the front row of the upper west deck near the 50-yard line.
On Friday, a lawyer from the university argued that the case should be dismissed because state government and its schools are immune from many types of suits. The school is trying to move his seats, and require him to donate an additional $6,000 to the university and pay face value for the tickets.
Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle will rule later.
"I've often told people I feel like I'm suing family here," Luck told the court.
As president of the West Tennessee Big Orange Club, Luck's father, William Luck, helped raise money to build the stadium's upper west deck. As a result of the father's fundraising, Gen. Robert Neyland, the school's former athletic director and football coach, gave William Luck lifetime rights to buy tickets for both seats in a 1961 contract.
The contract said the right could be passed down through generations, and Luck inherited that right when his father died in 2002.
Luck, who is representing himself, filed the lawsuit after school officials sent him a letter saying that because of renovations they were moving his seats.
Tiffany Carpenter, a spokeswoman for the school athletic department, said the university tried to relocate Luck to comparable seats on the other side of the stadium.