It’s the first home football game of the season and the streets of Provo are flooded with passionate fans shuffling around LaVell Edwards Stadium. Little kids beam with excitement after they high five their favorite football player as the team completes the cougar walk into the stadium.
As a fan, those memories of the game and environment are cherished and remembered. But who is responsible for making sure those preserved memories are happy ones?
The third floor of the Student Athlete Building is home to the BYU athletic marketing team, which strives to create those special game day experiences. David Almodova, assistant athletic director of marketing & promotions, has been working for BYU for 13 years and is always thinking of new ways to spark interest among the BYU fan base.
An issue that is plaguing the college football landscape is how to retain attendance throughout the season and the during entire games. The BYU fan base presents an interesting challenge for Almodova and his team.
“We have to make sure we are catering to the students and the season ticket holders,” Almodova said. “They range from 21 to 91 years old.”
BYU athletics marketing relies heavily on the work of their interns. Joel Marion from Greely, Colorado, is studying applied statistics and is one of those interns. He has focused on “giving them (fans) enough of an experience where coming back isn’t an option — it’s what they are going to do.”
With a world that is becoming increasingly digital, Almodova said it’s a battle between the at-home experience and the in-game experience. Streaming services allow students, adults and families to watch the game from the comfort of their own home, on their own time. Along with making the in-stadium experience worthwhile and enjoyable, the marketing team also focuses on supplemental activities that will enhance the game day experience.
“The football game is the main course,” Almodova said. “But what are we supplying as the appetizers and side dishes?”
Athletics Marketing Coordinator Jordan Blad wanted to tackle this issue by creating an event that would entice fans to come early and stay throughout the game. Effective advertising for all home events is a key part of her job.
For the 2019 season, Blad helped implement Cougar Canyon, an interactive tailgate for fans of all ages that starts three hours before the game. It featured games, a live band, food trucks and a massive video board showing other games going on. It promoted BYU as a family-friendly, interactive brand, Blad said.
There had been fans that yearned for more game day experiences like Cougar Canyon for some time. Listening to those voices on social media and other platforms is valuable feedback for the marketing team, which Almodova gladly accepted.
The people who pay for the tickets and go to the games become the best people to help enact change, Almodova said. Stepping up in-game promotions and traditions such as the “Y clap” and singing “Turbulence” were the answer.
“I don’t think watching from home beats watching it from the stadium,” Blad said. “You just can’t beat live sports.”