Seeing a favorite team or alma mater take the field is all the incentive most college football fans need to go out to a game, but New Mexico’s faithful fans can start looking forward to some additional benefits that aim to enhance the game day experience in 2016.
The New Mexico football season kicks off in less than three weeks, with its home opener against South Dakota on Thursday, Sept. 1.
New Mexico also revealed that, for the first time, at the conclusion of that contest, fans will be allowed to walk onto Branch Field after every home game.
“We are committed to providing our fans with a great game day experience when they come to a Lobo football game,” Head coach Bob Davie said in a UNM release. “We want our fans to be able to create long-lasting memories for our present Lobos and future ones.”
Quarterback Austin Apodaca said he thinks an open field for the fans is a big deal for both the fans and the players. In the long run, it could prove to be a fun experience that helps strengthen the bond between the football program and the community.
“I just remember as a kid going to college football games...going on the field and playing catch with my dad or trying to get autographs from the players,” he said.
UNM Marketing Manager Drew Ingraham said another component meant to enhance the experience for fans are giveaways for every home game. The first giveaway will be Lobo spirit bands handed out to the first 5,000 fans that enter the stadium.
Perhaps one of the more controversial fan enhancement implementations is the sale of alcohol to the public throughout the stadium, something Ingraham said he believes is a first for the complex.
There is also a possibility of an additional VIP section near the south end zone, which could be sponsored by a brewing company. Fans would have the option to purchase single or season tickets for access.
Many sports venues take measures to reduce the likelihood of alcohol-related incidents, such as stopping the sale of alcohol at a certain point in the game. There will be similar guidelines in place at University Stadium to ensure the safety of football fans.
Ingraham said the alcohol sales will be monitored, but several details and safety precautions are still being finalized. They are expected to be addressed in the near future.
The marketing director also said the concessions offered by Levy’s Restaurants, which he praised for its commitment to the Albuquerque community, will be ramping up its menu options to provide a wider variety of authentic New Mexican cuisine.
Although not a new component, Ingraham also said several sponsors have continued a partnership that includes offering season tickets to fans at discounted prices.
The 2016 Lobo Family Football Pack is available for $125 and fans might be able to take advantage of the opportunity just by purchasing items they had already intended on buying. The package includes general admission for two adults and two youths for all six home games.
Fans are able to bring a receipt that can be redeemed at the Lobo Ticket Office at WisePies Arena on purchases of at least $15 at Domino’s, $25 at Sadie’s of New Mexico, or $50 at Albertsons until the home opener.
The Lobos appear to be poised to build on last season’s bowl appearance with an improved defense and big play ability on both sides of the ball, but the enhancement efforts should help improve the fan experience and boost attendance.