One thing we've grown accustomed to at Pitt games is a lack of atmosphere. We all get it, the tailgating situation sucks, the fans can be apathetic most of the time, and overall there seems to be just a general lack of interest. Now this isn't a problem just for the football team, when the Zoo isn't making noise, the entire arena seems dead. Luckily it is easy for 1200 students to make noise in a 12,000 seat arena. In football we have to deal with a student section that is not always filled, an open ended stadium, and a team that has struggled in the past. All of those factors mean that the noise level isn't the same. Before you think I'm just ranting about the fans keep reading.
I was at a meeting with Steve Pederson and Dave Wannstedt where they challenged myself as well as other student leaders to improve the gameday atmosphere. While others were arguing that free t-shirts and hotdogs were the only way to get people to come, I argued that making the in game experience better was the real key for improving attendance (other than winning of course). Some people on SGB and other organizations felt I was crazy. Luckily Dr. Kathy Humphrey, Chris Ferris, and some other fellow student leaders agreed.
During the conclusion of the meeting, I along with our SGB president and Program Council Lecture Director was placed in charge of trying to figure out ways to make the in game experience better. One thing we all agreed upon was that there doesn't seem to be anything engaging the fans to make them feel more included in the game. Sure we want to have a beach ball in the student section and to incorporate other ideas to make the entire stadium seem like one cohesive unit. However, we felt that there was one big thing that Pitt hasn't used to our advantage yet. We have that massive jumbotron that usually is one big advertisement the entire game. Have you ever notice how excited people get when the Heinz ketchup flows??? That is why we decided that one of the most effective ways to improve the atmosphere is to use the jumbotron to get the crowd involved. Have you ever been to a Pens game and seen how they use a small outdated jumbotron to get the crowd fired up? Well, why can't we use our state of the art equipment to get our fans fired up?
During my last week of vacation before the summer semester starts, I am working to create video's and such to get the crowd involved. Things like showing a blue alarm going off with an airhorn signaling Code Blue (yes I know it is the code for death but just roll with it) for when the crowd needs to get pumped up on a big play. Also bring back the Panther growling on big third downs to let the team know we need noise (remember when we did that during the WaHa years?). Little things like player highlight packages such as when a player gets the ball, so a little highlight of him after the play (Heinz Field becoming overcast a.k.a. Shady, or Mo "Money in the Bank" Williams"). Also since we don't have the worlds most educated fans, we can use the jumbotron to get the fans to shut up when we are on offense.
There are endless possibilities here, and I hope that we can use this to our advantage. That is why I am encouraging all Cat Basket readers to email, post, or discuss any ideas that you might have to improve our in game atmosphere to: 1. help our team and 2. improve the atmosphere so that people will come to the game even when the team isn't performing as well as we would like.
So please, if you have any ideas let us know. I understand if you don't want to post since our fan base loves to turn on each other, but if you do, don't be afraid to email us: TheCatbasket@gmail.com or email@example.com.
Hopefully we can use this to help make the gameday experience better and to keep Heinz Field packed.