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PSU adds parking, student seating in advance of home opener - KOAM TV 7

PSU adds parking, student seating in advance of home opener

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Pittsburg, KS - In what has become a highly anticipated fall tradition, thousands of fans will pack Pittsburg State University's Carnie Smith Stadium for the first football game of the season, Saturday. And hours before kickoff, thousands of red-clad fans will join in the traditional GorillaFest tailgate party outside the stadium, where there will be food, music and games for kids.

To host an event of this magnitude is no small task, requiring months of planning and preparation not only in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, but also in various offices across campus. From the days leading up to game day until the last fan is safely home in bed, a small army of staff and volunteers will work to make sure the experience is one the fans won't forget.

“We have something pretty special here,” explained Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Jim Johnson. “Our fans understand the game but, more importantly, they love the Gorillas. We work very hard to ensure that we continue to earn that support.”

The work Johnson refers to goes well beyond team preparation. It includes overseeing every aspect of game-day operations. This year, several changes are being instituted to help improve the fan experience. These include expanding the student section by 200 seats, adding more than 300 parking spaces and ensuring parking gates open at 7 a.m. for all games. In addition, university officials have implemented a new alcohol policy that will limit alcohol consumption in official tailgating areas to a time period starting six hours prior to kickoff.

“We really listened to our fan base with these changes,” said Johnson. “The extra seating, the new parking and the gate times are a reflection of what we're hearing. Our fans want an exciting, family-friendly and safe environment.”

Tailgaters in the parking lot just east of the stadium will notice a new layout for Gorilla and Gold parking. The revised layout is necessary due to the addition of the new Gorilla Village Plaza.

“The plaza is going to be an amazing addition to Gorilla game day,” said Johnson. “I think it will quickly become a new focal point for fans and visitors alike and will create new traditions.”

University officials have also expanded student seating into sections K & L on the east side of the stadium. The expansion was in response to the incredible support students have shown in recent years.

“Our students have really answered the call to pack the stadium,” said Steve Erwin, associate vice president for campus life and auxiliary services. “They have an energy that's hard to duplicate and this is one way that we can thank them for their support.”

Pittsburg State is also making nearly 300 new Gorilla (paid) parking spaces available for game day with the addition of the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. “The facility is still under construction but we've worked with Crossland to be able to open up the parking lot on game days,” explained Erwin. “Of course, plenty of free parking will still be available at both the Kansas Technology Center and in the Nation Hall parking lot.”

In addition to the changes in parking, university officials have also updated their tailgate policy. Gates will open at 7 a.m. for all games but alcohol consumption will be limited to a time period beginning six hours before the start of the game and ending at kickoff.

“We want to make certain that our fans are able to have a great time in a family-friendly atmosphere,” said University Police and Parking Services Director Mike McCracken. “We want everyone to have a great time but to do so responsibly.”

Erwin echoed McCracken's statements about game day behavior and the importance of being good hosts.

“Pittsburg State is really looked at as setting the standard when it comes to providing the ultimate game-day experience,” he said. “These expectations bring with them great responsibility for our fans. It's important to remember to ‘Do the Gorilla thing by doing the right thing.'”

Officials in the PSU Ticket Office said sales have been brisk, but some great seats still remain. Tickets are available online at pittstate.edu/tickets or by calling the PSU Ticket Office, 620-235-4796.

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