During the Dallas stop of the This Is Texas tour, Texas Longhorns athletics director Chris Del Conte surprised fans with his most expansive comments to date about how he’s changing the gameday experience at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
The Orange-White game, which featured several bands playing before the scrimmage and allowed fans to bring their families onto the field for activities before and after the game, was just a preview of what Del Conte has in mind for this fall.
“In-game, we went from a script of 26 pages — ‘third down provided by Jiffy Lube!’ — and then the next thing — ‘first down provided by Flat Tire!’… well, we don’t need all that,” Del Conte said. “We don’t need to know what the weather is every time. The weatherman tells us it’s hot. Hell, we know it’s hot. So the idea is we’re going to control our in-game scripts and try to make it about the band.”
Bad news for Scott Fisher, the weatherman from FOX 7 Austin who has interrupted timeouts to remind fans of what they had already checked out on their preferred weather apps before the game.
Good news for fans frustrated by the constant advertisements on the Godzillatron during timeouts that had a detrimental impact on encouraging fans to make noise during critical moments of games.
Previously, the school has offered parking on Sac Jacinto Street right in front of the stadium, but Del Conte plans on moving cars to 21st Street and producing a “carnival experience, a celebration of Texas” outside the stadium instead.
Likewise, he wants to use the LBJ parking lot to stage concerts with food trucks and alcohol vendors to provide a better experience for students and fans of all ages.
Crowd control has been a problem, too, with too many fans trying to get in through the same gates, which hurts their ability to get to their seats at the start of the game. Del Conte is working to find a solution to that problem, as well as making tough choices about in-game music to improve the atmosphere.
“I listened to the Mamas & the Papas. My daughter likes Migos, which I thought was a breakfast meal, and Taylor Swift,” he said. “So we all have to compromise.”
Updating the “shag carpet and a disco ball” in the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Center as part of the south end zone project is also a priority, as Del Conte noted that it was built for John Mackovic in the 1990s.
Steve Patterson was brought in as an agent of change, but ultimately alienated many key donors and workers in the athletic department with his lack of interpersonal skills. His idea to improve the gameday experience was to bring in consultants from Disney.
Clearly, Del Conte is also an agent of change, but he’s doing it by listening to the fans and listening to his staff and making the common-sense choices that advertisers may not love, but will ultimately be good for Texas football.
In some key ways, the program is finally moving out of the wilderness.