READY TO ENTERTAIN
for fans, game day can mean much more than what happens between the lines,
and for many that starts with experiencing the Aggie Fan Zone
by Samantha Renteria
12th Man Productions
Those who have attended a football game at Kyle Field know that ”Game Day” constitutes much more than attendance at the game.
Game day is an experience which begins the night before at Midnight Yell and continues through the next day with tailgating, grilling, football watching, reunions, reminiscing, and of course, Fightin’ Texas Aggie Football.
All of this is part of the experience, and for many Aggies the game day experience includes participation in the Aggie Fan Zone.
Fan Zone, presented by Pepsi and located just outside of the North entrance to Kyle Field, helps to build the Aggie Spirit and get fans pumped for the coming game.
The Zone Plaza was developed in conjunction with the 1998 renovation of the Bernard C. Richardson Zone. However, until 2003 it was underutilized. A&M has always had a great tradition and atmosphere inside the stadium, yet that had yet to translate outside of the stadium. Even in the ‘90s, tailgating was not prevalent on campus.
So in 2003, Assistant Athletic Director for Events and External Services Steve Miller sat down with his team and, after much collaboration, Aggie Fan Zone was born.
“The idea was to create a sort of interactive fan fest in the Zone Plaza and in front of G. Rollie White,” Miller said. “We were trying to make it a family atmosphere, something that you can bring the kids to, where everything would essentially be free.”
In its infant days there was a radio show, food vendors, and some inflatable games. As the years progressed and Kyle Field became host to large-scale visits from national media, Fan Zone became a site for media and vendors alike. Clients who come to Aggieland—those who take their exhibits to a different football game every week—say that this is the closest they get to a football stadium anywhere in the country. It’s the most people and one of the best set-ups around, and that is why they like to come back to Texas A&M year after year.
Fan Zone and Kyle Field have seen just about it all. Food vendors such as HEB have unique foods and recipes for guests to enjoy. Some weeks companies display tractors and cars. There have been massages. You can get your hair cut. Inflatables got larger. The radio show has gotten bigger and grander. You can visit the Nissan Heisman House. KBTX added their Aggie Game Day TV show—which has won national awards such as the National Telly Award for Excellence in Broadcasting.
The takeaway is this—Fan Zone has just about everything.
At the same time there is the chance for you to meet both current and former A&M players. Whether it is the soccer, men’s basketball, baseball or swim teams, many athletes use the Aggie Fan Zone to connect with fans in a different environment. Fans can often get autographs or photos, further connecting them to A&M athletics.
Over the course of a typical game, anywhere from 40,000 to over 50,000 people will pass through Fan Zone. While people still tailgate at their parking spaces or in one of the parks or green areas, they still take the time to come—it has become part of their Game Day tradition.
There is so much activity going on around the North end of the stadium. The Corps of Cadets March-In has always been a part of Game Day tradition around Kyle Field. A few years ago Spirit Walk was developed, and that brings even more people to the Zone Plaza.
Other little traditions have popped up over the years, such as HOWDY buttons. KBTX has given these away for the past 10 years and people go by to get their HOWDY buttons year after year. They have to have it.
Fan Zone is for all guests here in Aggieland on an football game day. What it contributes to A&M cannot be understated. It brings the excitement and tradition felt inside the stadium and expands it outside of the stadium as well. The vendors and sponsors who help put it on are supporters of Texas A&M athletics. As Miller says, “That support goes a long way.” While they are trying to expand their businesses, they are there also showing their support for Texas A&M Athletics and the Texas A&M community.
Fan Zone begins three-and-a-half hours prior to kick off before every home game. If you’re attending either of the final two home games, make sure to check it out!
Visit aggieathletics.com/fanzone for updated information each week.