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:
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.