Saban appearance prompts angry Vols fans, threats - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Saban appearance prompts angry Vols fans, threats

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ATHENS, TN (WRCB) -

The stars seemed to line up in December for Rob Preston once he finally locked down Alabama coach Nick Saban to speak for the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce.

"Then, of course, they won the National Championship, and a lot of tickets sold the first couple of months."

In just a few weeks the event had already out-grown it's planned venue, but in February the interest took a much different tone.

"We got the very first email, and she said you need to come here and look at this. After that, it just kind of steam-rolled."

Fanned by message board chatter and former Vol quarterback-turned radio host Erik Ainge, Preston has received a firestorm of emails and voicemails from passionate Tennessee fans voicing their displeasure over Saban's stop in the shadows of Rocky Top.

"A lot of them have been about how they're going to boycott Mayfield milk or something with the city of Athens."

Most have been harmless rants and silly pranks, but there's always a few extremists who take it too far.

"We have received what I would call some threats, directed towards me, personally."

They've been serious enough to make the chamber beef up security as a precaution. Yet Preston remains in good spirits.

He's absorbed the brunt of the intense backlash for nearly four months, but a sell-out crowd of 1500 plus makes it worth the worry.

"This event will end up being the largest event of this kind in the history of our city. Probably 90 percent of the people coming to this event will be from outside our county, so from an economic standpoint it's going to be really good for us."

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