Memorial Stadium’s “visitors side” gets a new lease on life


Michael Barera through Wikimedia Commons

A shot showing the sparsely-populated east side of Memorial Stadium as the A&M-Commerce Lions face off against the Adams State University Grizzlies this past season.

Travis Hairgrove, Editor

After two back-to-back seasons in which the Lion Football team won the Lone Star Conference championship (the second of which continued into the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs), Texas A&M University-Commerce Director of Athletics Tim McMurray and his marketing communications team are striving to use that momentum to build the brand of the Lion Athletics program.  One of the main initiatives being taken, in that regard, is the repurposing of the east side of Memorial Stadium by discouraging the thinking of it as a “visitor’s side,” and instead using it as a space where corporate, community, and different colleges, departments and organizations within the university are encouraged to purchase reserved group seating.

“The Dean of our College of Business bought out section L [the middle section of the east side] for the season,” McMurray said. “He’s gonna use that for tickets for his employees and for their alums, because there’s no better entertainment value than free. We also have a corporate partner coming on board [Meador Commerce Auto Group], where section M is gonna be their ‘family fun zone’ area, where they give away tickets to clients, customers and employees. Then, we have all these other areas available for groups. We’re talking to area chambers and Rotary clubs to further activate the east side.”

Another motivating factor in the filling of the east side of the stadium is that the Lions’ game on Oct. 8 (against the Midwestern State University Mustangs) will be nationally televised on ESPN3, and a large portion of the shots used in the broadcast will likely have the east side as their backdrop to the on-field action.

“My goal for this year is to have at least one game, hopefully more, where if we send an airplane up to take an aerial shot of the stadium, it’ll take a picture of a full crowd,” McMurray said. “That’s what we need our mindset to be. Winning is absolutely the best marketing tool, but if you’re not prepared for the success when it comes, that’s a missed opportunity.  We’re trying to capture lightning in a bottle.  We’re coming off of two back-to-back conference championships.  If we can’t get people excited about that, then we’re not doing something right. They’ve drawn great crowds.  Now, we need to make sure those great crowds extend to both sides of the stadium.”

McMurray is also hoping that the Meador Auto Group-sponsored family fun zone serves to make the east side more attractive to Lions fans.

“I don’t know if it’s going to be Slip N’ Slides for kids or bounce houses, but we want to do things that create an atmosphere in the stadium where if mom and dad wanna watch the game, there’s something to entertain the kids without the parents having to worry about what they’re doing or where they are,” McMurray said.  “I don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like yet, but we want the east side to be a big part of the Lion game day experience.”