Lane Stadium has consistently been labeled as having the best atmosphere in all of college football, something that would not be possible without the passionate support of Hokies everywhere. With that in mind, the overall fan experience in Lane Stadium remains one of the top priorities for the Virginia Tech athletics department.
Over the past four seasons, the department has executed both a secret shopper program as well as intensive fan surveying through various platforms. The Atlantic Coast Conference has also executed multiple conference-wide surveys providing valuable fan feedback.
“We are continually working to provide our fans with new experiences at Lane Stadium,” said Brad Wurthman, Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Operations. “Lane Stadium is one of the most electric environments in college football and we are excited to continue adding to the list of reasons that make a Hokies football gameday special.”
Taking in all of these responses and corresponding data points, the department has identified multiple opportunities for improvements to the game day experience. Though not every suggestion can be implemented immediately, the selected improvements are detailed below with the goal of positively impacting the game day experience for fans of all types.
With such a wide range of information available to fans regarding game day, 2019 will have a renewed focus, not only on what information is shared but how it is distributed. Options to receive communication include:
Signing up to receive email updates: https://hokiesports.com/sports/2018/6/12/hokiemail.aspx
Visiting HokieSports.com/LaneGameday where you can find a Gameday Central page specific to each home game
The new March to Victory combines fans’ favorite game day traditions to form a spirit parade into Lane Stadium. Beginning 1 hour prior to kickoff at the Marching Virginians Center, the parade will travel through Lot 5, pass between Lots 2 & 3, and conclude in Lane Stadium entering through the SW field tunnel. The parade will feature Skipper, the HokieBird, the HighTechs dance team, the Corps of Cadets spirit team — Esprit De Corps, and of course the Marching Virginians. Fans are encouraged to join in the March to Victory and enter Lane Stadium gates upon the conclusion of the march.
Gameday Ambassadors: Focused on going above and beyond to improve the fan experience in Lane Stadium, Gameday Ambassadors will be located throughout the concourse each and every game. Ambassadors will be empowered to create lasting memories for fans while also being trained to provide first class customer service.
Guest Service Stations: To be located on the outside of Cassell (Washington St. side) and at the four corners of Lane Stadium (inside Gates 1, 3, 6 & 7), guest service stations will be available to provide fans with services designed to make your trip to Lane Stadium as hassle-free as possible. Fans can utilize these stations to: Learn more about the many options available to fans; Find more information on concessions offerings; Get assistance in locating emergency service personnel, water stations, restrooms, and any other way-finding in Lane Stadium; and Answering questions regarding your visit to Lane Stadium.
Celebration Buttons: Celebrating a birthday or is someone in your group visiting Lane Stadium for the first time? Stop by Hokie Village or any Guest Service Station to receive a FREE celebration button to wear while attending the game. It’s a great opportunity to create a memory for the newest Hokie fan in your family.
As a special perk for Season Ticket Members, “Beat Opponent” buttons (i.e. Beat Furman) will also be available at the same locations. Simply show your ticket and let the representative know that you’re a Season Ticket Member!
Virginia Lottery VIP Section: Added between the North and East stands this section will be exclusive to students. The section will feature a comfortable viewing area to watch the game plus complimentary water and snacks. Students must present their Hokie Passport at the entrance and must be 18 years or older. Any students interested in having access to this section can sign-up here (option of bringing an additional student guest will also be available): http://neweratickets61-t.neolane.net/webApp/APP3511.
While new items are added to the menu every year, what is overlooked is where the ingredients come from. In 2019, a wide range of ingredients will be locally sourced including but not limited to:
- Hokie Nuts (Wakefield, VA; available on all concourses)
- Smithfield meat products (Smithfield, VA)
- Grab & go smoked beef sticks (Galax, VA; available near sections 5, 101, 6 and 18)
- Bull & Bones wings (Blacksburg, VA; available by section 101)
- Locally owned and operated Papa John’s pizza (Blacksburg, VA; available on all concourses)
- Hethwood Market kettle corn (Blacksburg, VA; available in SE corner and near section 16 )
- Wiffle Pops (Wytheville, VA; available in NW corner and near sections 9, 103 and 8)
- Virginia Tech Dairy Club Milkshakes (Blacksburg, VA; near section 103)
- Pre-Pop Popcorn (Salem, VA; available on all concourses)
- A few menu highlights in 2019 include:
- Lunch Pail Pretzel (near section 103)
- Enter SandWhich (near section 103)
- Build Your Own Footlong (near section 13)
- Hot dogs, fresh off the grill (near sections 13 and 15)
- Additional turkey leg stations (SE corner, SW corner, and near section 9)
- HokieFit Burger (Vegan, Gluten Free) / Turkey Wrap / Grab & Go Salad (near sections 5, 31, 103 and 2)
- Keeping the fan in mind, we’ve also identified some of the best bang for your buck items:
- Bottomless Popcorn ($12, shareable; sections 9 and 103)
- Build Your Own Nacho Bar ($8, shareable; section 19)
- BBQ Nachos ($8, shareable; sections 7 and 103)
- 1 liter Smart Water ($6, West Concourse drink cooler vendors)
To help improve both line flow and crowd control on the concourse, a queuing system will be added at each permanent concession stand which will take the line away from the center of the concourse.
Video Board Enhancements: While the physical board will remain the same, the on-screen layout has been refreshed with the fan in mind. In addition, the board will now be broadcasting in higher definition than previous seasons. The new board layout this season will:
- Provide a larger video display area
- Feature a more prominent and easier to read game information cluster (i.e. Score, clock, timeouts, etc.)
- Have a prominent location for scores around college football
- Feature a wider variety of in-game statistics: Include the yellow “first down” line so that fans know exactly when the Hokies move the chains. Virginia Tech is one of a handful of schools nationwide who is implementing this technology.
Also added this season is a brand-new replay system featuring additional angles compared to previous years. This year’s video board presentation will emanate from the brand new ACC Network control rooms.
New LED ribbon boards were added at field level last season. This year the old ribbon boards that were already in place in the north and south end zones will be upgraded and be able to output at a higher resolution matching the new field level boards to provide a complete viewing experience
Timeout Clock: As a part of a conference wide initiative a new timeout clock will be added, keeping fans informed with how much time remains during each timeout. The clock will be similar to what the SEC implemented last year and will be located at field level for improved visibility.
Heat Plan: With fan safety being of the utmost importance, a heat plan has been established and will be enacted when the heat index is predicted to be 84oF or above, this new heat plan will both better prepare fans for their visit to Lane Stadium while also taking precautionary measures on game day.
When the heat plan is in place it will be announced the day of corresponding home game and will include:
- Notification on all digital channels with recommendations on how to avoid heat related illness
- Fans will be permitted to bring one unopened bottle of water per person
- Cool zones will be available in the corners of the stadium featuring fan misters and complimentary cups of ice
- Additional water and cool packs will be available at first aid stations
- Whether the heat plan is in place or not, it is important to note that the following options are always available:
- Water refill stations – Fans are permitted to bring in empty containers to fill with water provided at these stations. Locations include: West Section 18, South Section 105, East Section 7.
- First aid stations – Available by West section 20, South section 202, East section 27, and East section 1.
- Fans are encouraged to take advantage of shaded areas on the West, East and South concourses as needed.
Live Music: Providing additional pre-game entertainment options, live music will be added to Hokie Village prior to the Hokies match-ups with Duke on Sept. 27 and North Carolina on Oct. 19. Music will begin once Hokie Village opens, pause for the Hokie Walk, and continue afterwards. Acts include The Worx of Virginia and Jay Allen prior to Duke, and SJ McDonald and The Jared Stout Band prior to North Carolina.
Beer Garden: In line with national trends, Hokie Village will also be the home of a beer garden as a pregame entertainment option for fans looking for easily accessible family friendly tailgating options. As it is a controlled area, fans cannot bring in beer from outside of Hokie Village nor leave Hokie Village without consuming their beverages. For the first two home games, the only payment accepted will be cash. Beginning with the Duke game on Sept. 27, both credit card and cash will be accepted.
Updated Maroon & Orange Memories Options
- Maroon & Orange Memories returns in 2019 featuring new experiences and the opportunity to upgrade your seat location once inside Lane Stadium. While there are many options available in 2019, new experiences this year include:
- Fast Lane Passes for expedited entry into Lane at gates 1 & 6 (limited availability)
- Tee Tracker – Retrieve the tee after the opening kick
- In-game sideline access
- Gift basket delivery during the game
- On-field photos w/ HokieBird at halftime:
The program is free to register and Season Ticket Members receive complementary credits that were loaded into their account in early August. Register at http://hokiesports.com/experience
Fan Siren Notifications: First tested in 2018, siren speakers throughout campus will be utilized for the entire season in 2019 to notify fans of important times and various happenings. Notifications will include but are not limited to: Hokie Village opening, Hokie Walk reminder, gates opening to Lane Stadium, and a March to Victory reminder.
Flexible Ticket Options & Value Added to Season Ticket Membership: Already announced in the spring, all ticket options this season were built with flexibility and value in mind.
Season Ticket Members continue to receive the best value and benefits including a $25 concessions voucher for each season ticket purchased, Maroon & Orange Memories credits, discount to shop.hokiesports.com, complimentary men’s and women’s basketball single-game tickets (based on availability, dates TBA), Hokie Club priority points, access to post-season tickets prior to the public, and access to video board messages for birthdays and anniversaries.
Additional ticket options providing flexibility include the all new Season Mobile Pass, Flex Tickets, Build-Your-Own Mini-Plans, and Fan-4-Packs.
Fan Surveys & Secret Shoppers
Fan feedback will always be an important component to improving the Lane Stadium experience. Ticket holders can expect to receive at least one survey throughout the season regarding their visit to Lane Stadium. In addition, a secret shopper program will continue to be utilized for the 5th consecutive season.