POSTED BY MARTIN KICH
Writing for University Business, Ray Bendici provides an “Inside Look [at] College Stadiums.” The implications of the focal statistic in the second paragraph are worth considering. And the name of the expert quoted throughout the article seems one of those ironic pairings of name and occupation:
“Colleges now enhance game-day experiences with more luxury suites and better wireless connectivity in an effort to lure fans away from the comforts of home and to the stadium.
“In 2014, nearly one-fifth of the total expenses for athletics at public universities was dedicated to facilities and equipment, according to the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. As a result, hundreds of millions of dollars are being doled out annually to build or renovate stadiums, with the focus on creating experiences beyond just attending a sporting event.
“’Every university is trying to up its game, trying to compete with TV to draw people into the facility,’ says Don Barnum, global sports leader at DLR Group, an international design firm that works with multiple higher ed institutions on stadium construction and renovation.
“In addition to bigger and better scoreboards and sound systems, wireless connectivity is essential in new college stadiums so fans can use their mobile devices—whether it’s to keep track of social media or to enhance their game-viewing experience. Large institutions such as Penn State, Alabama and Stanford have all boosted bandwidth in recent years.
“Some universities create their own game-related content and deliver it wirelessly, and even generate revenue by selling access to real-time stats or streaming video, says Barnum.
“’The Wi-Fi connection also facilitates pre-ordering food so you don’t have to wait in line at the concession window—or if it’s a premium area, you can order from your phone and have it delivered to your seat,’ he says. ‘It’s like a mobile concierge in some cases.’
“Luxury seating and suites continue to be a primary revenue generator.”
Then after describing the many amenities available to those in the “luxury seating and suites, the author closes the article with this observation by Barnum: “’But no matter how many expensive food items are offered, there will always be a place for hot dogs and nachos.’”
Perhaps, but after reading this article, you may not feel particularly good about eating them.
The bifurcated fan experience is starting to parallel the separation between the top 50 athletics programs in the nation and the next 30 to 100 programs struggling to complete. And in both cases, students are footing the bill because no investment in stadium upgrades is going to turn the football programs at Eastern Michigan, Massachusetts, or Charlotte into national championship contenders. (Those three teams finished 126th through 128th in USA Today’s preseason rankings of the programs in the Bowl Subdivision.)
Ray Bendici’s complete article is available at: https://www.universitybusiness.com/article/inside-look-college-stadiums.
It is accompanied by an extended slide show of some of the most notable recent improvements at college football stadiums. For instance:
Special seating: A seat on the 50-yard line at Kansas State University’s Bill Snyder Family Stadium offers Wildcat boosters a memorable football watching experience. The second, third and fourth levels of the new $75 million West Side Stadium Center have suite, club and loge seating—each at different price points—for season-ticket holders, who also have access to all-inclusive food and beverage in the lounges located behind each seating area. Options range from wider seats to extra leg room . . .