25 Ways To Improve the Gameday Experience at Jacksonville State
The folks on the Gamecock message board had a good thread the other day of ways to improve the Jacksonville State football game day experience. We thought it was a good idea so we decided to consolidate them and add a few of our own. Please feel free to comment to add other ideas. Hopefully, someone is listening.
1. Player Promo Spots on the Scoreboard. Thanks to Jim Coxwell, the Gamecocks have a great video board. Unfortunately, last year, it didn’t seem to be used for much other than a pre-game clip, Dr. Meehan’s message and a promo supporting soccer. These are all good, but how about some clips of the players exhorting the crowd to get loud. Or better yet, how about some JSU related celebrities (Rick & Bubba, Coach Burgess, Coach Case, Coach Watts, Todd Jones, Randy Owen, Dr. Meehan) providing a clip saying get loud Gamecocks!
2. Player introductions. One of the biggest problems at the FCS level is that the fans don’t know who the players are because there is not the TV saturation there is at the SEC-FbS level. How about introducing either the starting offense of defense each game and have the players run out on the field the way we have all seen in countless NFL games? JSU is loaded with local players. I would think the folks from Piedmont would get excited hearing the name of a Piedmont player called.
3. Play “The Surfin Bird (aka “Everybody’s Heard About the Bird)” and Have The Players run between the band to come on to the field. This would be in the alternative to number 2. It doesn’t matter what decade you are from- The Surfin Bird by the Trashman (as memorialized on Family Guy) is a great song.
Wouldn’t it be neat for that song to play as the players are gathering outside of the locker room and then have the Southerners form two lines, play a great JSU tune, and have the players run out between them on to the field?
3. Put the Cheerleaders where they can be seen and heard. JSU has great cheerleaders. Unfortunately, they are frequently relegated to places where they can’t be seen by the vast majority of the crowd. Move them into the stands if you have to, but for goodness sakes get them somewhere where they can be seen or heard. Also, give one of them a microphone to lead cheers at the right time.
4. A promotion for every game. Whether its frisbee catching dogs or little leaguers playing before the game, EVERY SINGLE GAME should have a big time promotion associated with it. We already have the greatest co-product there can be with the Southerners- add some good old fashion minor league baseball type promotions and you will really have a great game day experience.
5. Great food for the general admission folks. The food in the club level is superb. However, we’ve never heard anyone brag about the general concessions. As suggested over at gojaxstate, how about providing a place where great local establishments like Cooter Browns, the Rocket, Jeffersons, etc., could have a place to set up and sell food in a food court like fashion? Or, how about setting up a gigantic grill somewhere and let fans be able to get a fresh grilled burger or hot dog? One other rule, if you are selling concessions at JSU, you need to wear a JSU shirt.
6. Enthusiastic PA announcing. Every time Ole Miss got a first down last year, their PA announcer boomed: “First Down Ole Miss.” Lets do the same (except don’t say Ole Miss).
7. Pre-game Kids Area. Inflatable bouncies, face painters, snow cone machines, etc. are cheap. A few years back, I saw a bunch of kids having an absolute blast prior to the UTC game in Chattanooga because someone had taken the time to provide a bunch of things for them to do. What a great way to get future students loving JSU!
8. Synchronize the Southerners with the game action. The Southerners are the best marching band in the United States. As one commenter on gojaxstate pointed out, if we could get some of their in game numbers synchronized with what is going on in the field, that would be awesome. As one Ole Miss fan commented in their survey (referenced below): “The Band playing the right things during the right times has the MOST impact on stadium atmosphere.”
9. Andy Griffin training for the yellow shirts. The Gamecocks have a level of yellow shirted security staffing that would seem to match what you might need for an English soccer game. No overall criticism here- most of the guys do their jobs well, but there has been enough anecdotal comments to make me think that a few of these guys could use to apply a little more Andy and a little less Barney for how they approach gameday situations. A secret shopper would be neat to make sure they are doing their job in a way that gets the job done, but never leaves a good fan with a bad taste in their mouth.
10. Huge Banners commemorating Gamecock greats. Plenty of room around the stadium to hang a banner to commemorate a great Gamecock. We could even unveil a banner or two at every game.
11. Online depth chart. A great game day experience starts before the game by having the ability to learn about JSU’s great players. There is no 2011 roster up on JSU’s website, nor is their an online depth chart. Peer schools (Murray and UTC for example) are light years ahead of us in this area.
12. A Gamecock Walk. Granted, this has been copied time and time again, but how about have the players enter the stadium in an organized fashion at a designated time. Kids love it and its a great way for fans, the players families and friends to see the team before the game.
13. Unified Colors. You can only lead a horse to water, but JSU should have an organized effort to get all of their fans to wear the same colors to the game.
14. Do something with the old press box. As the commenters on gojaxstate explained, the old pressbox is the one eyesore to what is probably the best stadium in FCS. Tear it down and you would have a nice view of the campus.
15. Pregame highlights of previous week’s game. The more our fans know our players the better it will be. How about have Mike “the Voice” Parris narrate highlights of the previous week’s game and point out the outstanding players? Maybe even an interview or two with a key player?
16. Sell beer? This has been much debated, but perhaps having a section where fans that wanted to enjoy a beer could have one is worth considering. If its done, it needs to be done in the right way and families should have the opportunities to sit in alcohol free sections.
17. Real Tickets. JSU needs to get into the year 2011 with the appearance of the tickets. There is no reason that our tickets can’t take on the look of what one sees at an SEC or NFL game.
18. Tailgating, tailgating, tailgating. Tailgating and college football go together like peanut butter and jelly. Dr. Meehan should appoint a tailgating czar to make sure JSU is doing everything possible to provide a comfortable, safe environment to tailgate.
19. Fan survey. Every fan should be given a link where they can offer suggestions and provide comments about their game day experience. JSU should follow the lead of Ole Miss – they conducted a survey of all of their fans about how to improve the game day experience. The result was a 100 point improvement plan implemented over the next 100 days.
20. Thundersticks and pompoms. These should be passed out every game. Thundersticks in the student section would be a huge hit.
21. Autographs. Youngsters love autographs. How about at every game during half time or following the game, there could be a few Gamecock players available for autographs and pictures. You could even include players from other teams.
22. Souvenir Cups. JSU should have a great looking souvenir cup available at concession stands.
23. A free gameday guide. Every fan should be given a one page guide to the game with a roster, etc. and critical information- where concessions are located, etc. This would not take the place of a program, but would go along way to educating the fans.
24. Organized cheers. I’ve heard different ones over the years (Big C, J for Jacksonville, etc.) but JSU lacks a consensus number one cheer. If there was one or two organized cheers we could get the fans doing, it would improve atmosphere.
25. Jersey Day. The Gamecocks have great looking uniforms. It would take a major corporate sponsor, but how about a jersey giveaway or at least some sort of sponsorship that would allow fans to buy a game type jersey at a reasonable price. How many #11s do you think they would sell!?