BATON ROUGE – New HD video and LED message boards, an enhanced capability for mobile phone usage, and new traffic flow patterns highlight the improved experience that Tiger fans will enjoy for the first time when the 2014 LSU football season begins.
It’s all part of a league-wide initiative to enhance the fan experience going into this football season. For LSU, the football season is just the first-step in a multi-sport, multi-year process to improve the fan experience in Tiger venues.
“SEC fans are the most passionate and loyal fans in the country,” said SEC commissioner Mike Slive. “Our institutions have made it a priority to engage their fans in a way that will enhance their in-game enjoyment and satisfaction. I salute our schools for being bold in addressing the fan experience and recognizing that increased attention to fans is critical to the continued success of our league.”
Of course, the newest feature of LSU’s venerable Tiger Stadium is the South end zone addition which adds suites, club areas and seating that brings the capacity of the historic venue to 102,321 for the 2014 season.
That South end zone features several new fan amenities including two new video boards that each measure 40’ x 70’. Both will bring high definition coverage of the games and is part of the new video equipment package and control rooms that are also being built for LSU’s part in the SEC Network.
The video board in the North end zone will also have the also have the latest HD capabilities and LSU Athletics has worked with LSU Sports Properties and its corporate sponsors to enhance the available viewing area on the North screen for the 2014 season.
All three boards will have the capability to now show multiple angles of plays when replays are called for by board producers.
Research done by the SEC shows that fans expect a high quality video experience in the stadium. At least six SEC schools are putting added emphasis to that area in 2014, including improvements to video elements and production as well as the addition of the HD boards.
The SEC has initiated rules changes that allow fans to see in-stadium replays of officials’ reviews and increase in-game opportunities for musical entertainment, and in 2014 ESPN is partnering with the SEC to provide video highlights to schools to utilize on stadium video boards for in-game highlights and updates for fans.
LSU with the change in the SEC music policy will use PA music to supplement the traditional times when the outstanding “Golden Band From Tigerland” is not playing.
LSU has also added two LED Fascia display boards in the south end zone and new boards have replaced the original boards that have operated for the last few seasons in the east and west facades of Tiger Stadium.
With the installation of the new boards, each will have the capability to operate independently with updated scores being featured throughout the game on one of the south fascia displays and updated stats featured on one of the displays as well. Also for the first time since the video boards were originally put up in both end zones in 1999, there will be a return to open captioning of plays on the boards.
“With the expansion of the south end zone and the additions of the new video and fascia displays, we really want this to be a special year for Tiger fans when they visit Tiger Stadium” said Jason Suitt, LSU’s Director of Fan Experience. “We have tried to look at all aspects of what fans want so we can improve the overall experience in the venue. The new capabilities that we will be able to implement on game day will only enhance what is already the best atmosphere in college football.”
The fan experience for LSU fans will also be helped this year as the school will adjust post-game football traffic to include contraflow southbound on Nicholson Drive/Highway 30 in an effort to help relieve vehicle congestion following home games.
The new postgame traffic flow is part of LSU’s on-going attempt to enhance the fan experience for football games in Tiger Stadium. LSU used the SP Plus Gameday consultant group to assist with new ways to ease both pre-game and post-game traffic congestion.
In addition to the post-game contraflow on Nicholson Drive/Highway 30, LSU, in conjunction with local law enforcement and city and parish leaders, are implementing increased pregame communication to fans with suggested incoming routes, current conditions, and any midseason adjustments made to our traffic plan. Fans will be notified by email, through social media, and on www.LSUsports.net/parking for these updates.
LSU Athletics and the Tiger Athletic Foundation have made significant investments in additional parking areas for the 2014 season, which includes the addition of 2,300 new parking spaces.
Complete information on parking lots and maps showing traffic routes go to LSUsports.net/parking.
Several athletic departments, including LSU, are taking steps to address and improve cell service on gameday both in Tiger Stadium and in the parking lots for its customers. LSU has installed a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) to help with phone call reception and will be slowly integrated during the season.
“We are excited about enhancing our cell service for our fans in and around Tiger Stadium with the Distributed Antenna System we installed,” said LSU Senior Associate Athletics Director Eddie Nunez. “It is a learning process that will be tweaked as we go through the season to get the best service for the fans in the most crowded areas inside and outside the stadium.”
Stadium ingress and egress will also be enhanced this season with the completion of South End Zone construction as new gates will allow fans easier access to the South seats, eliminating some of the congestion of previous seasons at Gates 1-6 on the West side.
In social media, LSU will soon re-launch its Fan Cage, allowing fans to participate in promotions and polls to win prizes and/or exclusive offers from sponsors and/or LSU. Fans will also be able to integrate with social media and the mobile apps to submit photos to display of their visit to Tiger Stadium on the video boards.
Throughout the 2013-14 athletic year, the SEC conducted league-wide fan research studies in football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and softball. The studies included quantitative research conducted by “Now What Research” and qualitative analysis to provide an in-depth profile of SEC fans across all 14 institutions.
According to that research, among the areas of most concern to fans is availability of concessions, and in 2014 with the expansion of Tiger Stadium, there will be new concession stands in the south end zone with new items including hot chocolate chunk cookies, a Death Valley Dog (which on a hoagie roll includes pulled pork, melted cheese and tortilla strips) and Toasted Ravioli.
Through Tiger Stadium concession stands will be new items such as Smoked Nachos (with pulled pork and Bar-B-Q sauce), the Death Valley Dogs, the popular Ditka Spicy Sausage Po-Boys, Fried Catfish Po-Boys, Churro Bites (Mexican pastry rolled in Cinnamon sugar), The “What” Sandwich (pork loin, ham, Mettwurst) and as former LSU player Marcus Spears noted on the SEC Network , “the best jambalaya in Baton Rouge, Death Valley Concession stands.”’
The SEC continues to address the fan experience even as attendance thrives in the SEC. Last football season, the SEC averaged 75,674 fans, which was an increase from 74,636 in 2012. Also, the average percentage capacity in 2013 for SEC games was 99.02 percent, compared to 97.40 percent in 2012. Out of 100 games played at SEC venues in 2013, including the SEC Championship Game, 57 were filled to 100 percent capacity or more.