Was Utah Fan Fest 2023 Worth Attending Or Was it A Waste Of Time?
(Salt Lake City)
Fan Fest 2023
The University of Utah Athletics Department held their Fan Fest 2023 last Saturday night August 19. The event is always highly-anticipated by Ute fans as they look forward to the coming sports year.
It signals the winding down of summer and starts getting fans hyped for the upcoming football season as well as the other fall sports seasons. It also allows fans to interact with student-athletes and coaches from all of Utah's athletics programs.
Fan Fest used to involve fans and athletes being allowed to wander around the area at the south end of the stadium as well as on the Rice-Eccles Stadium football field. Each of the teams used to be set up in specific areas making it easy for fans to find and interact with them.
The expansion and addition of the new south end seats … as well as the locker rooms, concourse and eating places … forced everyone onto the football stadium. Thanks for the Synthetic playing surface as I don’t think grass would have allowed that.
One thing’s for sure after walking on that bright green modern turf they now play on … Fieldturf … it is nothing like the crap we played on back in my era. That treacherous Astroturf was essentially a carpet laid down over a concrete base.
With no padding and no give, the resulting traction was ligament-tearing. It was just like playing on concrete. Many a teammate … myself included … tore something on it. The rug burns never seemed to heal. This new turf is incredibly soft and forgiving. I believe this latest version was installed in 2015.
Being a former Ute football player, long-time season ticket holder and Crimson Club member, I was disappointed to see that many of the football players on this year’s team didn’t choose to make themselves available.
There were a few of the freshmen and sophomores wandering around but … and please free to correct me if I’m wrong … we didn’t see many current players at this Fan Fest as in years past. I heard someone say there was no NIL money for attending so why should they? I hope that wasn’t the reason.
It was great to see both men’s and women’s basketball teams there. Both entire teams were there it looked like including the stars of both teams. And it looked like just about every member of every other team was there.
We all could’ve done without the inane “clear bag policy” enforcement for an event like this as well as the bearded guy at the south entrance menacingly telling people “you’re not bringing that in here.”
In years past, each team had a nice large poster with the teams’schedules on it. Members of the teams were happy to sign them and interact with fans especially the kids. That has gone by the wayside also. They gave you a tiny poster with the three fall sports’ home schedule on it.
It seems like the more people the Utah athletic department hires, the more they charge us and the less “free” stuff they give us. And this comes from a former scholarship athlete, a Utah graduate, a Crimson Club member and a season ticket holder for many decades.
I want to say that the athletes were extremely polite and interacted very nicely with the fans especially the kids. I was amazed at the how the athletes’ bodies have changed … both men and women … since my era in both size, strength and apparent athleticism.
They did allow fans to wander into the new south endzone addition and get your photo taken with the PAC-12 Championship trophies. That was a nice idea. It also permitted many of the people to get out of the rain which ended up cutting the event short.
The menacing clouds brought rain about an hour into the event. It wasn’t too long before the same guys that were checking bags at the front gate were herding people back out of the stadium like sheep.
All in all, it was a disappointing event as compared to those in the past. It seems that as athletics at the U has gotten bigger, more people have been hired and we’re asked to fork over more money every single year. It’s almost like taxes. We continue to get asked for more and more money while getting less in return.
At least we have … overall … winning teams to cheer for. I can’t help but think what things would be like if our football team started losing. I’ve lived through that too. I remember games and years when we couldn’t 15,000 people to a bad opponent.
I’m not sure that I would attend this event again unless it was just to take my grandkids.
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