I don’t know how to take this.
Texas athletics director Chris Del Conte wants to make some major changes to the game day experience for fans during football season in order to improve attendance.
The new AD told ESPN Radio’s Freddie and Fitzsimmons that his staff is working on ways to make attending football games more attractive during a time when college football attendance is down across the country. Del Conte said he believes it starts with improving the atmosphere and fanfare around the game itself.
“Whenever we have a football game, it’s truly a chance for us to celebrate our university,” Del Conte said. “And that means not only just the game, but all the pomp and circumstance that goes around that game. These stadiums are 60, 70, 80, 100,000-seat stadiums. Things have changed. With television, the kids, how they view their content. … So we have to look at different ways we purpose that in-game experience as well as that out-of-game experience.”
Del Conte said the school needs to improve wireless access for fans who want to use their phones and participate in the experience on social media during games. He also emphasized a need to “repurpose” in-game entertainment during timeouts and television breaks.
The Texas AD pointed to Disney World as an example of a fan experience that goes beyond the main attraction. He wants to create that same sort of atmosphere around Texas football games.
“If you look at Disney, the experience of your children going to Disney starts when they receive that ticket,” Del Conte said. “And they fly to Orlando. You get in the hotel and [you get] all that [Disney] experience until you get to the gate. Then you wait in line for three hours to get on the Matterhorn. Right? Three hours. And then you get on the ride for 40 seconds, and you’re going, ‘Oh my God.’ Then we do it again.
“But what happens when you get back to the hotel? Your kids [say], ‘Dad, that was awesome! Can we do it again?’ We’ve got to create that same experience all the way around our venues.”
On the one hand, it sounds like a classic example of “talk is cheap”. (Although if any program can afford to simulate what Disney does to create that experience, it’s Texas.)
On the other hand, it’s more of an acknowledgement about what an athletic department needs to do to improve the game day experience than we’re likely to hear out of Butts-Mehre.