The lights over Washington-Grizzly Stadium will blink on Saturday night, kicking off a season of change across the University of Montana campus.
This year, it’s all about “unity,” the theme selected for Grizzly athletics. And to get it rolling, the athletic department is calling for a “Maroon Out” on Saturday night when the Appalachian State Mountaineers come to town.
Fans are encouraged to arrive early.
“We want to kick our game-day environment one step further,” said Brynn Molloy, assistant athletic director for marketing and community relations. “If we have an exciting atmosphere when the ball is not in play, we can create that excitement for the team.”
Prep work for the Grizzlies’ first ever regular season night game played under permanent lights included revamping the game-day music selection and ensuring the “Griz Vision” scoreboard works without a flaw.
Molloy said the game will include new video elements, including “tunnel vision” shots. Other surprises will be unveiled near kickoff.
“We have some exciting things going on with promotions and what the team is doing on the field – and uniform-type stuff,” Molloy said. “People will want to be in their seats early for that.”
Whether played at day or night, no game is complete without a filling meal – think 2-pound pretzels topped with Cold Smoke beer cheese or one-third-pound spicy andouile sausages.
Concessions manager Ian Waetje said changes have been made to the arrangement of food stands throughout the stadium for the 2013 season.
“We’ll have all of the favorites that people have come to expect, and we’ve also done a new branding project,” he said. “A stadium map will show what food is available and where.”
The hotdog stands have been renamed Fan Favorites and the burger stands Bootleg Burgers. There’s also Sideline Snacks, which include pretzels and nachos, and other stadium favorites.
The Walking Mustache will offer prime rib sandwiches on the Majestic Plaza, and Caffe Firenze will offer chicken parmesan sandwiches. Griz dogs, polish dogs and smoked turkey legs can also be found.
“We think the new signage and stadium map will help people find what they want,” he said. “You can open the program and see where you’re sitting and what’s available in your seating area.”
The launch of the 2013 football season – much like the new academic year – opens a new chapter for UM and puts behind the uncertainties that surrounded both the football program and the college last year.
For many, the new “unity” theme is a statement moving forward, and the athletic department looks to generate a season of excitement, starting with Saturday night’s kickoff, televised live by Max Media.
“Our theme for the year is united and by ‘we,’ we mean Griz Nation,” said Molloy. “Our football team is as tight as it has ever been. There’s a lot of chemistry.”