FanPost

Keeping fans at Byrd

Right now, there simply isn't a great Maryland fan culture at many football and basketball games (obviously this doesn't apply to men's soccer). Too many fans "scan and leave" for basketball games just so they can see Duke (although not anymore, I guess). Too many fans leave Byrd Stadium when it's too hot/cold/wet ... we're ahead or behind by too much ... the opponent sucks ... etc.

There's been a bit of discussion in some comment threads about the problem of fans leaving football games early (or not showing up at all). I decided to add this Fanpost to continue the discussion of the problem and possible solutions.

There are two arguments thrown out a lot to "solve" the problem- "win more games" and "get better opponents." I'll try to speak to each of those briefly.

Win more games? They're working on it (outscoring two teams 90-20 in games 1 & 2 is a good start). But either way, we should develop a culture of supporting our team. It not only helps build their confidence but it helps us get recruits.

Do you think any high-level recruit is impressed by the size of Byrd Stadium? We're 61st in capacity for FBS stadiums. Now combine that with a stadium that's either one-third empty (now) or one-third occupied territory (once we join the B1G) - do you think that either situation will make Maryland attractive to any 4-star or 5-star recruits from out-of-state? How do you think our current players feel when the stadium is one-third empty, or even half empty after halftime?

Get better opponents? Working on that too, but remember that basically everyone in FBS has at least one or two weak opponents on the schedule. Other fans don't use it as an excuse. Do you think we'll have perfect schedules after we join the B1G? We'll still play FCS opponents (for a bit), or AAC / MAC opponents. Do you think Indiana is a good football opponent, who will be here every other year?

FWIW, these are the Byrd Stadium opponents for the next six years (not ordered for 2018 and 2019):

2014: James Madison, West Virginia, Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan State, Rutgers
2015: Richmond, Bowling Green, South Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana (PSU @ M&T)
2016: Howard, Purdue, Minnesota, Michigan State, Ohio State, Rutgers
2017: Towson, West Virginia, Northwestern, Indiana, Michigan, Penn State
2018: Temple, Michigan State, Ohio State, Rutgers, Minnesota, Illinois (UT @ FedEx)
2019: Bowling Green, Syracuse, Indiana, Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska

Some of the opponents are great, but others are not-quite-as-great. We should be there either way to support our team.

So, my question to everyone is: what steps can be taken to encourage fans to stay for most or all of the games at Byrd, regardless of the opponent or score?

These are some of the suggestions that I've heard (on TT and elsewhere), in no particular order ...

* Adjust the student loyalty points system. Reward students more for arriving before kickoff and not leaving until after the game is complete. One might also provide more points for attending the "non-premium games" (although the current system sort of does this by providing more points for attending a game with fewer requests than seats available). In short, create more incentives to stay for the whole game using the point system. This may help, but is only effective for the current students.

* Sell beer ('nuff said).

* Add Wi-Fi service to the stadium.

* Build a partial roof over the upper deck and/or over Tyser Tower, perhaps similar to what soccer stadiums have. Before you roll your eyes at this, I want to point out that there are at least two college football stadiums that have at least a bit of an overhang:

(1) Bryant Denny Stadium (for the Alabama Crimson Tide) has a small awning on both sides, and
(2) Husky Stadium (for the Washington Huskies) has a large overhang that provides shade and also helps the stadium be LOUD (ESPN once recorded the sound levels at a game as 130+ decibels).

(FYI, this is Husky Stadium when the overhang & upper deck were only on one side)

An overhang could help make the stadium louder (although when fans are packed in Byrd it is definitely loud already), help keep it a bit cooler during hot days, and help protect fans during bad weather. Given the orientation of Byrd, an overhang above the upper deck would help provide good shade during September, when it is needed the most.

(FYI on College Park climate: every September day has seen 90+ degrees at least once in its history; every average high temp for the first half of September is in the 80s; every day in first three weeks of October has seen 80+ at least once in its history.)

* Add plastic seats on top of the aluminum benches (something like this). Presumably this would help keep the seats not as warm in hot weather and not as cool in colder weather (compared to aluminum bleachers), as well as be a bit more comfortable. Get 'em in white and red and spell out F@$% DUKE GO TERPS (or whatever).

Maryland does have a problem regarding the two nearby NFL teams. While it's great as far as telling recruits that the NFL teams can easily watch them develop, it's bad as far as getting fans to the games at Byrd instead of at M&T or FedEx. So the Maryland football experience needs to be competitive with them to help convince fans to spend their time and money at Byrd. Not only that, but given the other entertainment options available to people, there's even more competition for money and time (especially as compared to colleges in smaller cities).

This obviously isn't a "fix it overnight" problem. A culture of staying for the whole game has to develop. But there may be things that can be done to help that culture develop, and hopefully make Byrd a place that opposing teams dread visiting, and a place that strongly supports its home team, regardless of the weather, opponent, etc.

What are your thoughts?

Anything deemed inappropriate will be deleted by an admin or moderator with the power to do so. The views of the above FanPost do not represent the beliefs of Testudo Times or Testudo Times' authors, nor are they the work of them.

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