The Texas athletic department has seen a lot of changes in the last couple of years: a new football head coach, a new athletic director and now — a new game-day experience.
For the 2015 season, athletics is looking to revamp Texas game-day by adding a live DJ to play music, interactive games and new vendors to bring in local cuisine.
At open practice Sunday, athletic director Steve Patterson said the athletics department wanted to add to the “pregame” part of the football gameday experience.
“We took a lot of fan surveys, a lot of feedback, and one thing that people wanted to see was more local food distributors,” Patterson said. “So you’ll be able to get Austin’s Pizza, Torchy’s and a number of other vendors. Pluckers will be out here. We look forward to all of this rolling out by the first game.”
Inside the Red McCombs North End Zone area, where the band marches through before taking the field, games including hacky sack will replace couches that once covered the area.
Just a little farther down the stadium, cardboard standees of former Longhorn wide receiver Jordan Shipley will feature a circle cutout through which kids can practice throwing a football.
Patterson said the program is looking to change the pregame experience.
“We’ll be open four hours before game time here," Patterson said. "We’ll have music, we’ll have interactive games, the food services will be open — and then two hours before the game, the gates will open and folks can go to their seats.”
But the biggest changes are at concessions. The areas with Pluckers and Torchy’s have completely transformed to to the taste of each individual restaurant.
The Pluckers stand is open outside of Gate 25 in DKR, and, although it already sports its signature blue and yellow colors, owner Dave Paul said it’s not complete yet.
“They’re changing the whole area into a sports bar also,” Paul said. “Our goal is to have 16 TVs up there, but they’re going to bring in 10 big screens this season. We wouldn’t do it unless it felt like a Pluckers in some shape, way or form, and I think by the time we’re done with it, it should look pretty good.”
UT will continue to give out coupons for five free wings after each win at home.
“People have been getting the five free wings after the game, and now people can come into the stadium and get their wings, and I think it’s going to be great,” Paul said.
On the other side of the stadium is another famous Austin establishment that is also taking a piece of its restaurant into the stadium. With the words “Damn” and “Good” lit up on either side of the windows, Torchy’s Tacos won’t easily be missed.
Torchy’s owner Michael Rypka said the restaurant will offer chips and queso in addition to three types of tacos.
“We’re serving queso, and there is nothing that beats chips and queso at an Austin football game,” Rypka said. “I think most people will gravitate toward us. It’ll probably take people awhile to know that we’re here — although we did make quite a statement."