The offseason hasn't exactly gone to plan for Texas Longhorns athletic director Steve Patterson, but perception of the embattled administrator could start to change if Longhorns fans find the gameday experience at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium more enjoyable this fall.
The most publicized of those changes is the addition of beer and wine sales at the stadium for the first time, but there are also numerous other alterations that could help increase attendance at a time when the football team isn't providing any overwhelming reasons to watch a Texas home game.
Here's a look at some of the changes that Patterson implemented since last season that will debut against Rice on September 12.
Better food options
Forget the hot dogs and stadium nachos that used to make up the standard fare at DKR -- Horns fans will now have delightful local options like Torchy's Tacos, Pluckers, Hat Creek Burgers, Daily Juice, and Mighty Fine, among others, thanks to a new contract with 1883 Provision Co.
"I want fans to walk away thinking about the next game. What am I trying next?" said Terry Olness, 1883 Provision Co. operations manager. "The food experience here will be like no other place in the Big 12 certainly. I think it will put Austin on the map for stadium fare."
From fresh meat cooked by pitmasters in a smoker in the southeast corner of the stadium to 10 craft beer portables to a beer, pretzel, and sausage-themed area, the new food options should represent a vertiable smorgasbord compared to the past.
Click here for a list of all the new food and drink options available at DKR.
New tailgaiting choices
Tired of walking up at the break of dawn to head to the parking lots around DKR to set up your tailgate? Finished with the breakdown process after a long day of football and drinking in the sun?
For fans with the available funds, spots on the LBJ lawn are still available for all five home games through a new partnership with the Tailgate Guys, despite record-breaking demand for the relatively new company.
"We've been blown away with how well Tailgate Guys has been received by the Texas Longhorns fan base," said Parker Duffey, president of Tailgate Guys. "We have surpassed any of our previous start up operations' first year performances well before the first game has even started."
Here are the specifics:
All Tailgate Guys hospitality packages are designed to host 15-100 guests and include tents, tables and chairs. Media and TV options can be added to every package. Tailgate areas will be constructed on and around the LBJ Lawn, just steps from Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Each reservation also includes one parking pass in an adjacent lot. Guests have the option to reserve paper products, utensils and coolers filled with ice.
Full-service catering with local Austin flavor is offered through local restaurants. Fans have the option to order from Contingo, Hoover's, Stubb's Bar-B-Q and Tacodeli or to bring in their own food. Please note Tailgate Guys spaces do not permit fire cooking and/or grilling.
There are four different packages available.
via Texas athletics
Pre-game concert before Rice contest
For the Texas country fans among the Longhorns faithful, Brad Paisley and Pat Green will play a concert together in the UFCU Disch-Falk Field parking lot on September 12. Stay turned for more information about the timing of that show.
Introducing Fan Fest
For those fans with a ticket to the game, the all-new Fan Fest will debut four hours before the Rice game and will feature a performance from School of Rock. Designed as a family-friendly environment, the event will feature food from vendors like Pluckers and Torchy's Tacos, as well as televisions for the adults and interactive games and inflatables for the kids.
More information on ticketing and parking
Construction around the stadium for the Dell Medical School has both reduced the available parking and tailgating areas, but the university is taking steps to ensure that fans have the necessary information to arrive quickly:
This week, we started a new feature on TexasSports.com: This Week in Texas Athletics. Check this page each week for updates on home events, parking, ticket information, special presentations and more. Be sure to check TexasSports.com and @TexasSports on Twitter leading up to and on gameday for important updates, including traffic and parking information. You can follow #GetHere4Gameday, parking or traffic on Twitter for everything you need to know related to gameday. You can also download The University of Texas iPhone app, which will display all parking and traffic related tweets from Texas accounts. We recognize that construction around our campus will make some ingress and egress more challenging than in the past. We hope you use these tools to help alleviate some of the challenges. If you decide to come early, please join the pregame festivities at Fan Fest.
So, Texas fans, what do you think about these improvements? Will they make you more likely to attend a game and possibly even change your opinion of Steve Patterson?