Rare is the stadium that hasn't experienced bottlenecks at the gates in this era of heightened safety (think digital tickets) and security (think bag checks and body scans), and Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, home to the University of Memphis football team is no exception.
As reported by the Commercial Appeal of Memphis, the UM athletic department, along with the Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium and City of Memphis, announced Thursday there will be changes to help speed up entry ahead of Saturday's game against North Texas.
Memphis will have seven additional security-wanding and ticket-scanning locations inside the stadium. The pregame pep rally at the fountain on Tiger Lane, which usually starts 45 minutes before kickoff, will now begin 15 minutes earlier at 1:30 p.m.
"We recognize some fans were impacted by difficulties entering the stadium last Saturday, and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we worked with our partners this week to address these issues,” Memphis athletics director Laird Veatch said in a release. “We are judged by the experience we provide, and we feel that these operational and fan experience updates will help minimize these issues for the rest of the season."
Prior to Memphis' home opener against Arkansas State last week, some Tigers' fans were stuck outside at kickoff due to delays associated with the Tigers having switched to digital tickets. Some fans shared on social media they had to wait between 30. and 45 minutes to get into the stadium because of long lines outside Gate 4.
Memphis also announced lines will be reconfigured at Gates 2 and 3 to allow for easier entry. There will also be additional staffing, signage and fan assistance at the games as well as additional street signs guiding fans with parking information and messaging.
Gates will still open 90 minutes before kickoff, which will be 1 p.m. There will also be "Happy Hour" beer specials from 1 to 2 p.m. where 16-ounce. canned beers will be sold for $6 at all grab-and-go, bar and portable locations.
As reported by the Commercial Appeal, Memphis announced before the season that it was switching to digital parking passes as well as committing more to digital tickets. Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium also switched to digital ticket scanners.
Fans were encouraged in advance to download both passes ahead of arrival, and Veatch made another appeal prior to last week's game. In his statement Thursday, Veatch once again asked fans to download their tickets and parking passes in advance to help ease entry, the Commercial Appeal reported.