With exactly one hundred days remaining to the kickoff of the 2011 football season, the Ole Miss Athletic Department announced that there will be one hundred changes which take place in and around Vaught-Hemingway Stadium to ensure an improved gameday experience. These changes-to-be are the result of the survey issued by the athletics department a few months ago and the brainchildren of seemingly the only person working for the athletics department who is actually in touch with the Rebel fanbase, Michael Thompson, the Senior Associate AD for Marketing and Communications.
You probably recall the survey as well as we do, which is to say "not very well at all," but if my memory's worth anything I can recall a questions regarding concessions, music, use of the Powetron, tailgating, and a handful of other things which, separately from the actual game of football, can add to or subtract from the overall gameday experience and have, for years, provided much offseason discussion fodder on the Sprivals. The results of the survey are here, and very little of what we see is surprising.
- Arkansas was listed as the away game Rebel fans were least likely to attend. Lulz.
- Most fans spend 1-3 hours in the Grove before or after a game. Just under 20% of Ole Miss fans spend nearly no time in the Grove, which I found surprising. The 4 or 5% of folks who spend 5+ hours in the Grove before and after games (raw numbers aren't available in the linked PDF, just graphs, so I'm guessing) are troopers.
- Dissatisfaction and importance seem to go hand-in-hand. For example, under "first impressions," Rebel fans were least satisfied with the outward appearance of the stadium and listed it as the most important aspect of the category. The element of "first impressions" Rebel fans were the most satisfied with? "Directional signage around the stadium," which was by far the least important element surveyed. (C'mon, it's a medium sized stadium which dominates the skyline of a small Southern campus. Signs aren't needed.)
- Overall, people find the stadium staff to be friendly, but don't like the selection of food, drink, and merchandise items available.
- The people in the South End Zone club are 99% satisfied with their drink selection and quality. I think the fact that they're allowed to drink booze up there has an impact on that result.
- People are meh-ish about the band and generally detest both the quality and style of the piped in sounds, whether that be music or audio to accompany the Powetron's display.
- Errybody loves the clelebrity Hotty Toddy.
Some pretty excellent comments were left by survey takers in the open-ended section of the questionnaire. I'm actually pretty pleased that Thompson et al have the cojones and sense of humor to include some of these in their survey results.
- "First impressions are very important. Ticket takers should approach their job with at least the attitude of the Walmart greeter," says Claude of Kosciusko.
- "I think we should play more rap music," says Anonymous, who then turns right around and says that "way too much rap music is played" one comment later.
- "Bring back 'From Dixie With Love'." You know, if they weren't actually considering that, I doubt they'd have put it in their survey results.
- "There is a distinct lack of originality in the food selections...Does not match up with local cuisine and culture." Anonymous is right yet again. We need a John Currence booth, where one can get a half dozen oysters alongside a seared steak of herb-crusted Ahi tuna topped with a wasabi bernaise. And next to that we need a Chevron booth with chicken on a stick, condoms, and lukewarm beer. MAKE IT HAPPEN! LOCAL CULTURE!
- And then there's a bunch of folks bitching about sloppy condiments and messy bathrooms. I dunno, I just quit paying attention. They're right though, some parts of the concourse are gross, but I think that has much to do with half of the stadium getting sloppyfaced in the Grove before kickoff as it does with poor stadium maintenance.
Finally comes the fun part, the actual one hundred proposed changes to Vaught-Hemingway and the Ole Miss gameday experience. Here are some that Juco and I found to be the most interesting, as well as our annotations.
Stadium sound consulting firm hired to fix acoustics problem
Give Michael Thompson credit here. The guy recognized a problem, found someone respected and experienced to fix it, and contracted them to do so. That's how shit gets done. We've got one of the biggest high definition scoreboards in America, but not a top-notch sound system to accompany it. This should change that.
Gigantic painted helmet will be removed from stadium's exterior
Good. Put up a gigantic picture of Patrick Willis or something. I hate that helmet.
Stadium and concourse appearance overhaul
How? It's a concrete cavern. This is lipstickin' a pig, as I see it.
Mini cell-towers added
We've wanted this forever.
Customer service training for concession employees
Even though "friendliness of staff" rated pretty high in the data collected?
Secret shopper for concessions
This is some Cold War shit right here. We're going to start spying on our (admittedly good) concession stand employees to make sure they don't fuck up our hot dog orders. Brilliant.
Coke Zero and Dr. Pepper
I'm trying to watch my figure, and I don't like the aftertaste of Diet Coke, so when I'm in the need to mix my secret flask of Wild Turkey, I'm going to need some Coke Zero. Well done, Thompson. Dr. Pepper though disheartens me. It shows that the Texan invasion of Oxford continues unabashed. (TEXANS WHO READ THE CUP ARE WONDERFUL)
Fresh squeezed lemonade
MAKE IT CHICK FIL A LEMONADE.
Many of the "text REBS to report a problem signs" will be removed.
There were too many folks like me texting "we're losing to Vanderbilt" for this to actually work. You've gotta think that the guy whose job it is to actually read through those texts endures a lot of shit on Saturday afternoons.
- Accept visa and mastercard in concessions
BBQ and hot dogs emphasized
Fried Catfish anyone? I'm sure we could get the fine folks from Taylor to sell a few fish fried fish fillets in a basket with some hushpuppies and french fries for 8, 9, even 10 bucks a pop. Throw some hotsauce on those bad boys, and you'll be curing your hangover before it even begins.
Pep rallies for every home game
This won't work. Ole Miss students are too cool for pep rallies.
Student Section spills into section A (where band was)
This is for the better. Keep them near the recruits so they can get a look the real Ole Miss experience.
I've always liked "KISS MY ASS YOU SONOFABITCH REF," so if we could work that into an actual stadium cheer I'd like it.
Wear red to every game
Coach O also had this idea. Just sayin'
Just make it bigger and get them to play some more Led Zeppelin. Nothing makes me want to knock the shit out of someone like the drums into to "When the Levee Breaks." Shit, play that, and especially when we play LSU (too soon? Yeah, too soon, but that shit hit Mississippi too so it's fair game.)
No more thirty-second commercials on the powetron
I like this. I'm sure all Thompson had to do was say "look, people aren't going to buy your shitty insurance plans or open up a checking account at your lame bank if they associate you with a losing football team." Easy sell, as I see it.
Actual sounds meter
I can't wait to see how crunk the Louisiana Tech game is gonna be.
Free screen savers and desktop backgrounds
THANK YOU! I NEED THESE TO SHOW MY COWORKERS HOW MUCH I LOVE OLE MISS!
- iPhone and Android apps
New twitter and social media accounts
Hey Mr. Thompson, if you'll pay me a liveable wage to manage your Twitters (I'm badass at Twitter, mind you), I'll gladly do it. You want a cover page and a resume? RedCupRebellion.com, there's my fucking cover page and resume.
Tickets are trading card style (stats, awards, etc)
Did someone actually suggest this?
- Advertising season tickets throughout region
Don't let us snark this to death. These are some much needed changes, and it is very exciting to see the athletics department actually listen to and value input from the student body and fan base. Well done. We look forward to the changes this fall.