Ringing in the inaugural game at McLane Stadium was nothing short of amazing: a sea of green and gold, cheering that would make your head spin, George W. Bush, RGIII and a powerhouse football team on a newly minted field. Not to mention the fact Baylor now has a stadium that opens to a river, which is unlike any other stadium in the nation.
This fresh style made for an atmosphere that was unprecedented. It was impossible to not be proud to be a Bear that night.
However, the inaugural game in McLane Stadium brought with it something unsavory. More specifically, fans brought their habits of the past with them to the jewel of the Brazos.
New stadium, old behavior.
After halftime, Baylor led 31-0. One would think this would only motivate fans to stay longer; to watch the Bears continue to crush Southern Methodist University. As disappointing as it is, by the end of the third quarter, at least a third of the fans in attendance had emptied out of the stadium.
This would have been expected during the dry days of Baylor football, and even accepted as a habit at Floyd Casey Stadium. But this is a new era, a new time to rally as Baylor Nation, and we can’t even keep our stadium full throughout the first home game, and one that we were winning throughout.
We understand that the game was a blowout and that maybe some fans wanted to beat the traffic, but this was a momentous moment in Baylor history. Let’s not allow this old routine to taint our future.
While we encourage students to stay throughout Baylor’s games, there are measures officials at Baylor can take to ensure the stadium is filled throughout the game. As people leave, scan their ticket. Then redistribute those tickets throughout the second half of the game. These recycled tickets could even be sold to people waiting to come inside the stadium.
There are merits to some of the policies that existed at Floyd Casey Stadium. During the Homecoming game in 2013, when people left the stadium, other people were allowed in. This kept the stadium full and people who did not initially have a ticket were able to watch the game.
This policy is one that should carry over with McLane Stadium, especially with the overwhelming demand for tickets, and it would keep the stands full. It’s a win-win.
Empty stands weren’t the only bad habit brought from Floyd Casey. After the game ended, another long-standing vice became apparent. The amount of trash left in the stands was disgusting. Empty water bottles, half-eaten hot dogs, soiled napkins and the like littered the stands. It was not a sight becoming of a castle or anything representative of Baylor University for that matter. To call this new stadium a jewel and then to leave it in such a condition is unbecoming of Baylor fans.
More trash cans could solve this problem. But, in reality, fans need to be more respectful of the revered ground they are enjoying. With or without more trash cans, fans still have to make the effort to clean up after themselves.
It’s possible the excitement of the shut-out game caused some people to forget their trash. This is not a good excuse. No one would dump an empty Dr Pepper bottle and nacho boat on the floor of their home. Let’s not do it in the new home of Baylor Nation.
The goal of this new facility is to enjoy the camaraderie between students, fans and alumni. Old habits die hard, but we must not let them tarnish this new era of Baylor football.
When fans next cross the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Bridge and see the stadium rise over the Brazos River, they should remember that they must play a part in keeping this structure beautiful. We should set the standard high for those fans who come after us. After all, the stadium is part of our legacy now.