Schools across the country are making efforts to compete with the glorious convenience of the living room by finding ways to enhance the stadium experience for fans attending games. The SEC yesterday sent out a large press release with many of the new features for 2014, and UA then sent out a release with all the Arkansas-specific upgrades.
So if you're attending a football game at Razorback Stadium this fall, here's what you can look forward to. WARNING: many of these changes were made as a result of "fan research studies" that included "quantitative research" and "qualitative analysis" and UA's coveted "branding" instead of thinking "what would be cool?" This is sort of how you get the difference in the market-tested goodness of a Chili's vs the authenticity of whatever your favorite local burger place is wherever you live.
I don't say that to insinuate all the these changes are bad. I think many of them are great and fully endorse them. Just makes me roll my eyes a bit. I do appreciate the efforts to making attending a game more convenient
, but as always, game attendance will almost always be determined by team quality and opponent quality first and foremost. If Arkansas has a losing record in October when the UAB game rolls around, there's going to be lots of really cheap tickets on the secondary market no matter how many extra nacho stations there are in the stadium. It's fantastic!
Some of these have already been reported, but I was unaware of some. Here's the full list from the release (with some comments from me):
- The addition of live, up to the second game data on the LED ribbon board on the East Façade of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (but not the west facade? added incentive for those west sideline seats.)
- The Razorback Marching Band will be featured when the HOGS are on offense and in most dead ball situations. DJ will play during the time when the HOGS Defense is on the field, and during special crowd prompts, allowing our game presentation to take full advantage of the new SEC rules for 2014 (this is what the team did in the public scrimmage. They'd play snippets of songs in between plays until they're not allowed to. Interested to see how this works and if it effects the crowd yelling on third down)
- The Razorback Marching Band has an all new lineup of halftime performances scheduled for the 2014 season
- Better coordination of spirit elements, inclusive of the Razorback Marching Band, Spirit Squads and a DJ (I don't know if the DJ operating the in-game between-play music is the same as the DJ in Club BERT at the top of the South End Zone, but we'll see.)
Food and Concessions
- Addition of more credit card terminals at multiple locations throughout the stadium
- Introducing 2 new gourmet food concepts - Wholly Habanero and Bodacious Burgers (Bodacious!)
- Adding more shaved ice and ice cream locations throughout the stadium (I can't get enough shaved ice. Seriously.)
- Adding BBQ concession stands to top West and top East featuring pulled pork sandwiches, BBQ nachos, and our signature Soooiiee Sundae (their spelling, not mine. Also, what's on a Soooiiee Sundae? I've never seen one. Does it have bacon?)
- Added value for Club seat holders now being able to purchase beer/wine at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (as previously reported. Still no word on what types of beer.)
- 50% increase in walking vendors/hawkers throughout the stadium
- Sodexo will have new easily distinguishable uniforms and signage to better assist fans in recognizing food and beverage areas (I didn't know this was a problem)
- Worked with corporate partner AT&T to upgrade DAS Cellular Coverage to 4G/LTE throughout Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (Do we not get told this every year?)
- Construction is complete on the new state of the art Razorback Sports Network Broadcast Center, which will enable our game producers to connect HD video content to Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium
- An all-new team entrance video will debut on ARKANSASRAZORBACKS.COM and all Razorback Social Media Outlets on Friday, Sept. 5, the day before the home opener against Nicholls State University (I'm always excited for the new intro videos. I think they're way more important than I know they actually are.)
- All video board and LED graphics are refreshed and rebranded for 2014, featuring the return of the "Exploding Helmets" (Ok. Apparently people really wanted this to come back. I suppose we have to call this a tradition now.)
- Creation of New Student Rooftop Club - Enhanced amenities (tents, furnishings, televisions, and live entertainment) located atop the upper level south end zone, creating the only exclusive club amenities section to students in college football (I've said what I have to say about this. And yes, I will be referring to this as Club BERT. The Internet deemed it so last week and the Internet is always right. If basketball can have Gucci Row, football can have Club BERT.)
DWRRS Facility Upgrades
- Addition of a new digital field level speaker system to assist in providing fans with full-bodied sound of the Razorback Marching Band and giving the Game day Productions crew the ability to better control volume in the stadium seating areas (minimize feedback for audio volume being too high or too low) (I'm a huge proponent of upgrading the speaker system in the stadium. I sincerely hope this lives up to the promise. If you've ever been in a stadium with excellent audio, then go to Razorback Stadium in recent years, the difference is staggering.)
- Extensive concrete repairs in both east and west lower seating bowls
- Operational upgrades to both west side elevators
- New branding is now showcased in the North End Zone on the lower façade of the Broyles Athletic Center (NEW BRANDING! Really, it does look pretty good. But referring to it as "branding" knocks it down a couple pegs.)
- New player field entrance being designed (there hasn't been anything installed there during the scrimmages, but we took a few stabs at predicting this the other day.)
- Created all-new official Arkansas Razorbacks "Gameday" application for football, men's basketball, women's basketball and baseball. With FREE LIVE AUDIO via RSN: Razorback Sports Network, interactive social media, interactive stadium maps, fan guides and all the scores and stats surrounding the game, the Arkansas Razorbacks Gameday application is your digital Gameday guide so you can focus on "Calling the Hogs!" (Free live radio really is a nice improvement)
- Hired external management group to oversee all event staff (security, ticket takers, ushers and parking attendants). Focus on consistent level/quality of customer service when hosting patrons to our campus.
- Beginning a Game-Day Ambassador Program to enhance game-day experience for fans by answering questions, providing direction to patrons, at shuttle stops, shuttles and in and around stadium as numbers permit.
- Addition of a new payment plan options for Football Season Tickets, allowing fans the option to have a more convenient access to Razorback Football Game Days at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (I don't really see how that allows fans more convenient access to the game, but whatever)
- Addition of a Young Alumni program, which welcomes back recent graduates from the University of Arkansas with the opportunity to join the Razorback Foundation and purchase football season tickets at a reduced rate
- TUSK, the Spirit Squads, and the Razorback Marching Band will begin their parade into Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium after the teams have left the field > Each group will have a special spirit video which celebrates their place in the Tradition of an Arkansas Game day (this is nice)
- The all new #HogHelp Team will be in place four (4) hours prior to each home & away football game to provide instant responses to Fans via social media outlets on Twitter & Facebook. If you have a question about anything Razorback, we will go to the source and solve your problem ASAP!
- Spirit Squad members to visit fans in seats during the game, based on Twitter interaction request: #HogSpiritVisit (Wait, so fans can request cheerleaders come and hang out with them in the stands during games? Well okay!)
- Addition of Tagboard to the game day production, which will highlight live collections of social media comments and photos from fans on the HD video board