Another football season at Alumni Stadium will come to a close this Saturday, as the Eagles take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack at 12:30 p.m. Bowl eligibility is on the line for both teams, but even if BC were to lose the next four games and be rendered bowl-ineligible, there are several positives that have surfaced from the 2013 BC football season.
Last year, fan experience was an obvious problem. Tailgating restrictions were a constant complaint and Alumni Stadium would often not reach maximum attendance until well into the first quarter, and be practically empty by the middle of the fourth quarter. While this can be attributed to the team’s poor performance on the field, there was not much happening off the field that made fans motivated to come early and stay late.
With the introduction of Brad Bates as athletic director and the hiring of Steve Addazio as head football coach, the culture surrounding BC football has changed for the better.
Bates introduced his "You're No. 1" campaign in order to maximize fan experience and season ticket sales at Boston College home games. This initiative included new hospitality venues that allow more fans to enjoy the tailgating experience without the hassle and expense of tailgating in the parking lots.
Other initiatives included the new "Eagle Walk" which has been widely praised as bringing new tradition to BC football. After a pre-game mass at Gasson Hall, the entire football team parades down the Million Dollar Stairs to Alumni Stadium, weaving through fans and alumni in one unified procession. The pre-game introduction of the team has also been revitalized with fireworks and a new video presentation.
The crown jewel of the new BC football experience, though, has been the re-introduction of the live bald eagle, who was recently named Welles after Boston College alum Welles Remy Crowther, who heroically saved lives during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The eagle has been a major attraction at BC’s Fanfest located in the Plex, where fans can take pictures with the majestic bird.
The game day experience has undoubtedly changed for the better. Bates and Addazio have done a tremendous job changing the culture of BC football.
Bates’ willingness to listen to the fan base via town hall meetings, combined with Addazio’s experience coaching in big time football programs like Florida, Indiana and Notre Dame, have created an energetic atmosphere around BC football that we have not seen since the Matt Ryan era.
However, there is, and there always will be, more work to be done.
Tailgating hours and parking continue to be controversial issues given the city of Newton's ever-precarious stance on the noise and traffic associated with game day events. It will be interesting to see how the relationship between the athletic department and the city of Newton pans out in the coming years.
For Addazio, the win and loss columns will become even more important after a successful 2013 campaign where expectations were low.
Ultimately, getting fans to pack Alumni Stadium will depend on the team’s success on the field. However, off the field, Bates and Addazio are doing all the right things to show that football is back at Boston College.
Follow @BCGavelSports on Twitter for the latest updates on Boston College athletics.