What went right and what went wrong from the first game at FAU Stadium
We've heard from the athletic director about what went right and what went wrong at the first game in the new on-campus football stadium after department meetings today.
No one asked us, but we have our own lists of what worked and what didn’t, so here's what our staff thought.
Agree or disagree with us or did we miss something? Let us know on Facebook page or our message board. There have already been some pretty good observations so please, join the discussion.
Chuck King: Owl Access reporter on 18-part Football in Paradise series
What went right
Students party down: The tailgating atmosphere was fantastic throughout campus, but I think the students in particular did a good job of turning a grassy quad in the center of campus into a tent city. Lots of spirit (and spirits). Plenty of smiles. Owl Rangers everywhere. Could really be something as it grows.
Owl Prowl: This tradition deserves to survive to the next head coach. Nice to see the players parade through campus. Fans came away from their tailgates to watch their team enter the stadium, allowing them to put a face on the numbers they'll be cheering for. The touching of the Owlsley statute infront of the Rec Center was a bit hokey, but if the players like it, go for it.
Former player reaction: Nothing surprised me more than to see the former players jumping around, high fiving, chest bumping and hugging on the field – soaking in the atmosphere while waiting for the game to start. Many had their phones taking pictures and videos. Jeff Van Camp, Cerge Sincere, Rusty Smith, Rob Housler David Matlock and all the former Owls might have been the most excited people in the stadium and FAU did a good job of incorporating them into game day and making them feel special.
What went wrong
You get ready: I think everyone expected the ticket office to have issues (why would they start getting things right now) and the lack of time between stadium handoff and the opening game set up the concessions to fail. Combine the two and you have a large group of people who couldn't get into the game until after kickoff and went home thirsty.
Third-rate pregame: From a flyover that no-one even noticed (there was a United States Coast Guard helicopter that crossed the field width-wise), to dragging the U.S. flag across the field before and after the anthem to having a contest losing “celebrity” who probably isn't even popular in his own high school sing the national anthem, planners really managed to aim low.
Zero points! Really? Anyone who saw the game was immediately trying to forget it. No imagination. No execution. What happened to all the formations we were promised in the fall? Why no hurry up offense, since that appears to be the only way FAU can score? Why can't the offensive line block a hotdog wrapper? Why bother taking the field the rest of the season?
Marcus Nelson: Owl Access Editor and Publisher
What went right
Boca Raton, next college town? It wasn’t just the atmosphere at the stadium that was amazing. It was all around town. From FAU fans in bars on Friday night to businesses with the schedule poster in the window or the cashier at 7-11 asking people if they were going to “the” game. You never got that when the team played in Forth Lauderdale, but now the locals seem to be learning about the local team.
A real homecoming: It was great to see so many alums were back on campus, many for likely the first time since they walked across the stage to receive their diploma. The campus is growing so fast, even the ones who graduated recently have to feel a sense of pride when they see the progress ol’ “Find Another University” is making. By the way, those alums are ones that are ripe for giving money, but I’m sure FAU’s fine fund-raisers already are working on that.
Sweet life in the suites: Speaking or raising money, the suites and private boxes are perfect for bringing in Boca Raton movers and shakers to try and get them to open up their wallets. You would have been hard-pressed to successfully wine and dine the big-money people under a tent at Lockhart. But the amenities at FAU stadium are first-class and could conceivably become the place where the Grey Poupon crowd in Boca goes to see and be seen.
What went wrong
Fans want more than four: There is no doubt that the No. 1 complaint among FAU’s loyal fans is not being allowed to arrive on campus early to get ready for the game and tailgate until four hours before the game – a policy that was strictly enforced. The University Press reported this week that other schools, such as UCF, allow tailgating and parking to commence at 8 a.m. the day of the game. With next week’s game kicking off at 8 p.m. fans and student ts can’t begin to get ready for the game until 4 p.m.? FAU needs to re-think this policy and quick.
Some empty seats: So FAU spends a year to push the Oct. 15 opening game and fell just short of packing the house. While there is no shame in drawing 29,103 to the game in a stadium that seats 30,000 the empty seats shows that FAU’s base is far below 30,000 so the days of sell-out crowds are likely a few years away. Also, FAU officials now have six days to get people to the game Saturday against Middle Tennessee.
Long lines at ticket window, concessions: There were plenty of people of waiting in slow-moving lines to pick up or buy tickets before the game, ensuring plenty of fans already were angry before they even got inside the stadium. Not a good way to build a fan base. Once inside, lines to concessions and the bar in the Priority Club were quite long. One can say it was bad because it was the opener, but the popularity of the Priority Club means it may be packed for each game. If people have to pay extra to buy a beer, they are going to demand to be able to buy it without missing a good portion of the game waiting in line.
Alyssa Barbieri: Owl Access correspondent
What went right
Packing the stadium: Despite earlier reports that only 7,000 tickets had been sold with less than a month before the stadium opening, FAU fans turned out in impressive numbers to witness a historic moment in FAU history. There were 29,103 people in what was a near sell-out. The student section was rocking before and early into the game before the team took themselves and their fans out of the game.
Traffic was flowing: For the most part the traffic heading to the stadium was quite satisfactory. There were some slowdowns once you reached the stadium, which is to be expected when you have thousands of fans making their way to the game, but there were no major incidents that slowed traffic to a standstill for a long period of time. The three entrances worked out perfectly.
Live Owl: What will hopefully become a tradition before FAU home games, an owl was brought to the stadium as part of pregame festivities. It was escorted to midfield by its trainer for part of the coin toss and will one day hopefully take flight over the field. The owl almost appeared to get stage fright. Funny, because that’s exactly what happened to the Owls.
What went wrong
Scoreboard fail: I was expecting more from FAU in the way that they would utilize the massive scoreboard installed over the student section. During key third and fourth-down plays for Western Kentucky I expected more effort in regards to graphics and audio to get the fans loud and have an impact on the game. Hopefully it remains a work in progress.
Let there be tailgating: Even before Saturday’s inaugural game there were complaints about FAU’s tailgating policy. Fans aren’t allowed to tailgate more than four hours before or after the game, when fans weren’t very happy because of what they just saw from their team. When the game got underway there were still fans making their way inside. Hopefully the tailgating policy will be altered in the future.
Major letdown: Perhaps safety Marcus Bartels said it best when he said that the best part of the day was the atmosphere of the stadium. It was all sunshine and optimism before the game but storm clouds seemed to loom overhead the Owls from the second quarter on. Not only did Western Kentucky score the first points in FAU Stadium, but they also delivered the Owls their first loss and shutout on a day that seemed so bright earlier.