Schools are getting creative to attract football fans
With the national trend of falling attendance in college football, schools around the country are trying to do something about it. Here are a few ways programs are attempting to get fans back in stadiums:
New athletic director Chris Del Conte has helped create “Bevo Boulevard,” a fan zone carnival of sorts outside of the stadium with food trucks, cheap beer, live music, a DJ and a kid zone with bounce houses and games. Once inside the stadium, Del Conte has lowered concession prices to offer a selection of hot dogs, nachos, candy, fountain drinks and bottled water for $4 or less.
The Longhorns snapped a string of three consecutive losing seasons with a 7-6 finish and Del Conte has made fan engagement a top priority since taking over the Texas program in January. Texas had its home opener against Tulsa last weekend and tens of thousands were packing into the fan zone more than three hours before kickoff to eat, drink and line the street to watch the “Bevo parade” as the Texas longhorn steer mascot got a police escort to the stadium.
And instead of driving right up to the stadium, the Longhorns team walked through the crowd to cheers from throngs of fans.
Season ticket holder Matthew Smith, 45, loved the new game-day atmosphere.
“It’s more family inclusive, so I get to bring the kids,” Smith said as music blared in the background and the aromas from the food trucks wafted through the crowd. “I’ve been coming to Texas games since the early ’80s as a kid and it was nothing like this, not the environment, not the fanfare, nothing like this. This is a huge improvement.”
The newest addition at Tiger Stadium is called ‘The Chute,’ which is open to 21-and-older fans who have a game ticket. Tickets are $20 per person and include two drinks. Available food includes alligator sausage po’boys, fried okra and pizza.
The school also has created concessions areas that include ‘grab and go’ items, including vegan options, acai bowls and other healthier fare not often seen in stadiums.
There’s also some new food for fans who want heartier food: There’s the new Tiger Tot Tower, which is tater tots covered with BBQ pork, hot cheddar cheese and green onions, and other things like a Spiral Pizza.
The school is trying to spice up Carrier Dome options, including pregame concessions discounts of 50 percent for all fans until 30 minutes before kickoff, though alcohol is not included. The school will also have pregame entertainment in the Quad starting three hours before kickoff.
Syracuse athletics director John Wildhack said the enhancements were in response to feedback from fans. He added the goal is to try to attract more students to games and get them in the seats earlier.
The Tigers have tried to attract fans with the largest video board in college football, which measures about 190 feet wide and 57 feet high. The school has also tried to enhance ongoing traditions that include the pre-game eagle flight and the Tiger Walk to the stadium for teams and coaches.
The Buffalos have relied on several flash sales throughout the summer, which are usually spread through social media or email and last around 24 hours. Among them: A Father’s Day sale included home opener tickets for $17 since Father’s Day was June 17th. Also, there was a Boulder temperature promotion in July that sold club seats for the home opener for $84 since it was 84 degrees that day. That was a 62 percent savings over the regular price.