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Texas AD Steve Patterson wants to improve football gameday experience

The Texas stadium is now the third-best place to watch a college football game in the region.

Erich Schlegel

Facing increased competition from the Baylor Bears and Texas A&M Aggies as a result of new or improved football facilities at those schools, the Texas Longhorns are scrambling to improve the gameday experience at Darell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Count new athletic director Steve Patterson as one who doesn't care much for the current state of that experience.

"I'll be quite frank, I'm not satisfied historically with where the gameday experience is," said Patterson on Monday during a talk sponsored by Texas Monthly. "Our wifi is not where it should be. Our sound systems are not where it should be. The video systems that we have are good on some days and not so good at other things. But that's going to be significant capital investments that we're going to have to make.

"If we want to replace that Godzillatron," Patterson said, "that's some real money."

The Aggies now have the largest scoreboard in college football, while the Godzillatron has been marred by some technical issues in past year and has always drawn complaints for the prevalence of advertisements.

Renderings of south end zone construction the school is considering in connection with changes resulting from the Dell Medical School going in don't feature the Godzillatron. Patterson has said in the past that the school hasn't made any final decisions about the nature of south end zone reconstruction, which would likely include new football offices.

Installing a high-tech wifi system in the stadium would also be expensive. The Bears spent $2 million on the wifi at the new McClane Stadium and also have an app that provides in-game stats and highlights. According to Patterson, the cost for the Texas stadium would reach $7.5 million, with another million for installing the service at the doomed Erwin Center.

Why the high cost? Presumably it's because the Texas stadium is so much bigger than the new Baylor facility, holding nearly 40,000 more people and requiring much more equipment to outfit. The Bears have already had to reconfigure wifi access points in order to ensure full coverage at games because of obstructions from the band and standing students.

In an effort to improve the gameday experience at DKR, Patterson is ready to implement suggestions made by Disney after a group of officials were brought through the stadium to make recommendations.

And the athletic department just sent out a survey so that fans can provide direct feedback:

  • What's your ticket-holder status? (Suite owner, full-season package holder, partial-season package holder, single-event buyer, none of the above)
  • Do you use your season tickets for personal and/or business purposes? (personal, business, both)
  • Which best describes your relationship with UT? (current undergrad, current grad student, alum, parent or student of alum, current faculty/staff, former faculty/staff, general fan, other)
  • How many home football games have you attended so far this season?
  • With how many other people do you typically attend UTFB games?
  • How important are each of the following in determining whether you will attend a specific game (1-not at all, 10-very: start time, on-field performance to-date, availability of friends/family to join me, significance of games to standings, opponent, whether that game features a promotion)
  • What type of seating does your package have? (general, premium-suite, club, etc.)
  • Including this year, for how many consecutive years have you been a season ticket holder?
  • Overall, how satisfied are your with your UTFB ticket package holder experience this year? (1-10)
  • To what extent has being a UTFB ticket package holder this year met your expectations? (1-10)
  • How well does being a UTFB ticket package holder this year compare with the ideal ticket package holder experience? (1-10)
  • How likely are you to recommend purchasing a similar UTFB ticket package to a friend or colleague? (1-10)
  • If today were the deadline to renew your UTFB ticket package for next season, how likely would you be to renew? (1-10)
  • Why are you unlikely to renew or unsure about the decision? (Select all that apply: cannot resell because they are cheaper on secondary market, prefer watching on tv, not enough of a family atmosphere, moved out of area, not happy with seat location, can buy tix for games I want on secondary market, don't feel valued as a ticket holder, parking/travel issues getting to games, unhappy with the in-game entertainment (i.e. videoboards, contests, etc.), parking/travel issues leaving games, too inconvenient to bring kids to games, not satisfied with frequency of promotional nights/offers; dissatisfied with seat relocation process, price exceeds the value and benefits, can no longer afford it, unable to attend enough games to make it worth it, package offerings do not make sense for me, poor food and beverage options, poor quality of food and beverages, negative behavior of other attendees, team not committed to winning, no perceived demand for tix in the marketplace (i.e. partners, employees, clients, etc.), energy of the audience/crowd is lacking, lack of adequate internet connectivity at the stadium, none of the above)
  • How important do you consider each of the following aspects? (1-not at all, 10-very: ability to sell tix on secondary market, ticket package discount vs. individual game pricing, team's commitment to on-field excellence, the sense that I feel valued by the team, seat location, team's commitment to academic excellence, recognition of tenure as a ticket package holder, affordability of tix (i.e. overall cost of attending a game, win/loss record, flexibility of payment options, exclusive ticket package holder perks/benefits)
  • How satisfied are you with the following aspects of being a ticket holder? (1-not very, 10-very: flexibility of payment options, recognition of tenure, team's commitment to academics, the sense that I feel valued by the team, package discount vs. individual game pricing, team's commitment to on-field excellence, exclusive perks/benefits, win/loss record, affordability of tickets, ability to sell on secondary market, seat location)
  • How well does attending UTFB games this year compare with the ideal live event experience? (1-not close at all, 10-very close to ideal)
  • Based on your experience this year, how likely are you to recommend attending to a friend or colleague? (0-not at all, 10-extremely)
  • How important do you consider each of the following aspects of gameday experience? (1-not at all, 10-very: ticket price, technology amenities (i.e. mobile access, video board, sound system, etc.), premium giveaways on game days, entertainment during game (e.g. halftime show, videos, etc.), family atmosphere/amenities provided at the game, seat location, ease of travel to/from, feeling of safety at game, quality of food/bev, gameday atmosphere, amenities offered on concourse, parking, customer service provided at games, energetic student section, variety of food/bev, pre-game activities (e.g. tailgating, fan zones, etc.), seating quality/comfort)
  • How satisfied are you with (same stuff from previous question)
  • Who would you contact first with question/issue regarding ticket package? (customer service/sales rep, main ticket office, don't know)
  • What is the one thing UT could do to provide the optimal experience? (1500-character essay question - I used 1497 characters)
  • Please indicate how many of the following types of events you attended in the last year (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS, motorsports races, minor league games, CFB games, college basketball games, HS games, live theater shows, concerts, movies)
  • What's your age, gender, etc.
  • How far do you live from stadium?
  • Annual income?
  • Fans have been providing plenty of feedback about the current state of the gameday experience and the football program by avoiding games. Neither of the first two contests came close to selling out and there were still over 7,000 tickets remaining on Monday with No. 7-ranked Baylor coming to town.

    Demand for merchandise has seemingly remained relatively inelastic with the Horns still topping all the IMG College schools in revenue, but the demand for tickets has clearly changed with the on-field struggles.

    Starting to win once again would go a long way towards filling up DKR, but improving the fan experience at games, which could in the future include the sales of beer and wine, would go a long way towards selling out games once again, too.