Idaho upping the game day experience for fans

·2 min read

Sep. 16—Can the crowd live up to the expectations? That's the biggest question heading into Idaho's home opener against Drake.

Vandal fans seem eager because, according to the athletic department's ticket office, they'll be coming in bunches.

As of Thursday, the athletic department is expecting a sold-out crowd for Saturday's noon start at the Kibbie Dome.

The last time the 16,000-seat facility sold out was on Nov. 12, 2010, against Boise State in a nationally televised game.

The nation won't see this one (it will be broadcast on SWX) against an in-state rival with a Heisman hopeful on the opposite sideline. As of press time, there still are multiple sections said to have "many" tickets available.

However, everyone affiliated with the athletic department has made a conscious effort to promote the game on campus and on social media.

Coach Jason Eck recorded a video in the front row of the student section encouraging the student body to come out and support the team.

"They got 4,500 seats in this student section, and I want every one of them filled," Eck said in a video posted to the Vandalizers' Twitter page. "You're right behind the opposing team's bench. You can make a difference in this game, intimidating the other team and helping us get a win."

Idaho also worked with the Associated Students of the University of Idaho to promote the game. UI also is giving out complimentary tickets to the state's high school football coaches.

Along with the promotion of the game, the game day experience at the Dome has improved.

Improvements include Vandal Village, the new central tailgate area located in the west plaza of Idaho Central Credit Union Arena. It'll include an alumni tent with beer and wine for purchase, food trucks, yard games, and a kids zone with inflatables, face painting stations and more. Admission is free.

The concessions also got a boost with the addition of a Chick-fil-A mobile cart and a Walking Taco station.

A new premium seating option also has been added. The VIP Field Experience will be located at field level below sections 1 and 2, allowing fans to take in the action from the sideline.

The space includes a private, no-host bartender and complimentary snacks during the game.

Idaho also will be offering pregame entertainment, which will begin 30 minutes before kickoff. It starts with the Idaho marching band and will also feature the Vandal Spirit Squad along with a new Joe Vandal entrance, team hype video and a "reimagined" team entrance.

Despite an 0-2 start, these new features, along with optimism from the fans, could have the Dome rocking. It's a good sign for a fan base which has been starving for something to cheer about for a long time.

Pixley may be contacted at (208) 848-2290, tpixley@lmtribune.com or on Twitter @TreebTalks.