On May 28, 2019, Vanderbilt AD Malcolm Turner announced some athletics facilities would be improved. Vanderbilt Stadium was included with a new north end zone video board, removal of the south end zone video board, and restroom renovations on the docket. Today, a more comprehensive and football specific statement was released.
Among the previously unknown physical changes are some new, moved, and changed concession options. A “Family Fan Stand” outside Section B will have hot dogs, nachos, soft drinks, water, and popcorn for $3 or less each. Papa Johns will add specialty pizzas and other game day specialties (whatever those are!) to their standard fare. Chick-Fil-A and Maggie Moo’s are each adding a food truck location. Urban’s Cookhouse, which is described as a “‘Farm to Fire to Table’ local community concept” will occupy a concession stand by Section O.
The fan experience will also be buoyed by fireworks after each Commodore score and win. There will be more giveaways. Meanwhile, in possibly the most important news, fewer on-field presentations will occur during TV timeouts! No, seriously, if you have been to a game, it is no surprise how much that matters. Nothing kills the in-stadium atmosphere like an announcement of which faculty member has the cleanest desk complete with a game ball presentation from their department chair along with the AD.
Then, we get to some “enhancements” that could be awesome if done well but may only annoy those who love the band. A DJ, from his deck IN THE STUDENT SECTION, will be in charge of the music being played during pregame warmups and during the game. These tracks will be more easily heard thanks to additions of new and more numerous speakers.
The concern coming from today’s statement is that the restroom renovation will not be done before the first game. In fact, the phrase “construction will continue throughout the season” is used to describe the restroom improvements. Furthermore, new signage will be implemented to instruct attendees to the their desired destination — but will not be completed until after the Georgia game. The signage will be in place by the time LSU visits Nashville.
One ancillary note for fans heading to Vanderbilt Stadium is that Guest Services staff will be switching from the green polos to “sharp new black and gray uniforms.” The green polos were useful since they stood out very well, though they did not necessarily fit typical Vanderbilt branding. The new ensemble (sorry, no picture was included) will probably not stand out quite so well. For the point of Guest Services, being easy to find seems much more important than being in team colors.
These changes may seem minimal, or even like a step in the wrong direction if you hate the idea of non-band music, but the reality is that even these minimal changes should be encouraging. Malcolm Turner appears to have taken his motto of listening then acting on what he hears seriously. None of these are groundbreaking or necessarily game changers, but any indication of investment from the university is positive. Hopefully, the 2019 Commodores give the university and athletic department many reasons to keep this ball rolling.