A Closer Look At Ten of Auburn’s 25 Gameday Improvements
Auburn announced improvements for the game day experience to and around Jordan-Hare Stadium. (photo: Auburn Alumni Association)
Love him or hate him, Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs is trying. Just a scant week before Auburn football takes the field against Georgia Southern, subscribers to the AU Athletics’ War Eagle Weekly email service received an email outlining more changes coming to football game days.
Changes centering around improving the experience of the average fan aren’t new. The last round saw lots of up-to-date TVs added around the concourse and free water distribution stations. Of course, these updates were half-measure responses to what the fans had actually asked for: more and better concessions to alleviate waiting for food during games and the ability to bring in water on hot September day games.
You may recall that Jordan-Hare is scheduled for some fairly massive upgrades, but the average fan wasn’t expected to reap the benefits. The vast majority of the construction centers around corporate sponsors and recruits. I’ve voiced my concerns for several years now that the average fan and donor is continually ignored, despite taking the time to fill out surveys sent out by the athletics office.
Perhaps Jacob’s heard fans.
There will be 25 enhancements, and for the most part they are aimed at the average fan. You can read about all of them here.
Let’s take a look at ten of the more notable enhancements:
- The Facilities and Community Garden RV parking area will now open on Thursdays at 2 p.m. They previously opened on Fridays at 4 p.m. While it was unlikely that you, as a fan, were going to be turned away if you arrived slightly early on Friday, it did make following the rules a bit hectic when showing up after work on a Friday (especially on big game weekends). This is a terrific change that should drive down the stress for hundreds of RV’rs.
- The North End Zone concourse was expanded by 60 percent to allow for better traffic flow and less congestion. Additional concessions carts, grills and tents will be placed in this area. I would have much preferred to see the walkways inside of the stadium extended as that is where traffic is the worst, even if it meant sacrificing a row of seating. The congestion in the breezeways and on the loop around the stadium is the absolute worst thing about being inside Jordan-Hare.
- Tiger Transit shuttles will operate to downtown Auburn pregame and from downtown to War Eagle Way after the game. I admit that I have never had an issue parking, even close to the stadium. We also stay fairly late after games to allow the congestion to die, so this doesn’t affect me. However, any mass transit done right is a good thing. I have to say that walking to the stadium from downtown is a long way, especially for the elderly.
- 45 new flat screen TV’s have been added to the upper concourses for better fan viewing when away from the game. Same comment I’ve had time and time again: Make the vendors more efficient and there is no need to watch the game from inside the concourses. If they need to be anywhere, they need to be inside the bathrooms or at least in easy viewing of the line going to the bathroom.
- Auburn built four new concessions stands on the main concourse level and added 61 new points of sale. A followon to my statements earlier. Is more better? I guess we will see.
- The size of the cups at the free hydration stations has been increased to 12 oz. The issue here isn’t the size of the cup but the inability to take enough cups to your seat. People pile up at the hydration stations to quench their thirst. I completely understand the safety issue that requires no bottles. Yet, every game day, hundreds of gallons of liquor is consumed inside the stadium. Are plastic drink containers really the problem?
- A new outdoor club will be located in the Plainsman Park parking lot. It will be open to the public, and food and beverages will be available for purchase. I don’t see how this is new, at all. There have been multiple vendors at this spot for a decade or more. Perhaps it will offer something unique to fans, but it seems to be just an idea to cash in on the Tiger Walk crowd. Then, there is the talk of beer sales. That’s an entirely different debate, but it toes the line of demarcation between NFL and college policies that college football has danced around for decades.
- The official Auburn mobile app will integrate in-stadium contests and interactive features. Instead of concentrating on contests and interactive features, I wish they would improve the app’s quality. It’s been fairly horrible.
- New specialty vendors (Philly Connection, Taste of New Orleans, Jim N Nicks, Nuts About Auburn, Bodacious Burgers) have been added to the newly expanded north concourse. No offense to the old vendors, but “specialty” is interchangeable with “premium” in my book, and none of the previous “premium” vendors were premium at all except in the cost.
- The student section will have a DJ. This has been the subject to a lot of laughs the last day or so on talk radio. Word on the street is that this DJ will take over duties that already existed, specifically playing music when the band doesn’t. However, it’s hard not to envision DJ Khalid playing “All I Do is Win.” Auburn has never, EVER, had an issue with either filling the student section or getting the students involved.
This feels more like something Oregon would do to establish atmosphere. This is Auburn. It has THE best game-day atmosphere. If Auburn needed to create an artificial atmosphere, all it had to do was dial up Alabama and Nick Saban for pointers and demand that the students stay for the entire game at the risk of losing their student tickets or pipe in the band through loudspeakers.