Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
Indiana University athletic director announced some additions to the game day experience at Memorial Stadium for the 2014 season. Before we go through the new additions and what is a hit and what is a miss, let’s see what is returning from the previous season. Back is the cannon Big Jake, On campus pep rallies, the Victory Flag, fireworks (shocker), The Walk, and many other Indiana traditions.
The New Game Day Experiences
The headliner of the game day improvements will be the new ribbon board that is on the façade of the north end zone. The board will provide more statistics and of course more entertainment for fans to enjoy. The board is 200 feet long and three feet high.
Verdict: Hit. Adding statistics and
Purple Lot Improvements-
A pet project of President Michael McRobbie, Indiana University improved the purple lots (North Side of the stadium) by paving the lots. The improvement will add 650 parking spaces and created eight acres of green space. The lot no long looks like a gravel yard and should improve the tailgating experience for fans.
Verdict: Hit. IU has improved both the look and feel around the stadium.
Engagement by Ushers and Event Staff-
One of the most important aspects of a Hoosier game day is to feel welcome and safe inside Memorial Stadium. TO help this ushers and event staff will wear “Ask Me” buttons. In case a fan has an unpleasant experience staff will be armed with “Hoosier Bucks” that can be redeemed for food to brighten up the day.
Verdict: Corny, but it will build goodwill with the fans.
Food Giveaways- Last season IU gave away discounts if the team broke 50 points and/or made 10 stops on defense. They improved upon this idea by involving McDonalds. In 2014 if the Hoosiers score 50 points (done three times in 2013) or make 10 stops on defense (not as often) Hoosier fans will get a free double cheeseburger. If the Hoosiers do both of these in the same game Hoosier fans will get a double cheeseburger and a large fries with it.
Verdict: Free food is always great, but again the requirements to get that free food may be too high.
Selfie Station- Really? A station just for selfies? I understand the reasoning behind it, but this is just ridiculous. Not only will this disengage the fans from the game it creates a one-dimensional view of IU football on social media.
Verdict: Miss. Fans should be encouraged to take pictures from everywhere in the stadium, not just one place. Half of the fun of the selfie is taking it in unique places.
Countdown Clocks- These clocks, which countdown the time until the game kicks off have been placed at Kilroy’s on Kirkwood, Kilroy’s Sports, the IMU, and TIS. In theory this is a great idea, but how will this encourage the student at Sports or Kilroys to make it to the game?
Verdict: Hit! The bottom line is the Hoosiers have to win some games first before they can get those students from the bar to the stands.
Free “Green Water”- No, this isn’t a St. Patrick’s Day tribute. IU will be allowing fans to bring in empty water bottles to fill up at watering stations.
Verdict: Hit, for the fans. Everyone loves free stuff and water is best when it is free. The downside will be the lost sales at concession stands.
The Million Fan Challenge- This is one of my favorites. Fred Glass has challenged Hoosier fans to attend all sporting events this season. The goal, obviously, is to reach a million total fans at IU home sporting events. Last season Hoosier sporting events drew 890,000 fans. Glass also noted that fans will be rewarded for being landmark numbers (ie. 50,000th fan, 100,000 etc.)
Verdict: Hit. Even though the goal will be difficult to reach seeing that football can only max out at 317,574, I believe Hoosier Nation is up to the challenge.
All of these game day enhancements have their upside and downside, but each of them will improve the fan experience at Memorial Stadium and should help Fred Glass and the athletic department accomplish their goals of making Memorial Stadium a destination on game day Saturdays. Your thoughts Hoosier Nation?