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Maroon Musket Mailbag

We received a lot of e-mails after last week’s Maroon Musket Mailbag, and I plan on getting to each one. With that being said, please keep them coming. Answering these questions gives me a second to breathe during UMass’ machine-gun approach to 2014 recruiting. You can reach us at: maroonmusket@gmail.com.

Today’s e-mail is from Zach Emery, who had many other questions that we will definitely get to as we have more time (and, quite frankly, more answers):

What other improvements (besides bathrooms) do you think should be added to the McGuirk renovation?

While your question specifically says “besides bathrooms,” I literally can’t force myself to write about this without hammering home the fact that McGuirk is in dire need of a respectable restroom facility. As an FBS program this is an absolute must. I refuse to do the research, but I am guessing with confidence that the University of Massachusetts will be the only FBS school in the nation with lines of Porta-Potties serving its constituents in the year 2014. I am almost mad at the Mid-American Conference for not including this in its Membership Agreement with UMass. I don’t care if it’s for one game or a full home slate, not having 21st century toilets at McGuirk is completely unacceptable.

Other than that, the ticketing booths out in front of the stadium need either a complete overhaul or should be scrapped. They are concrete outposts that remind me of the ones that we used in high school. I hope that the new facility includes a new ticketing window, and that entire gate-to-concrete-booth fixture in front of McGuirk is torn down. While the outside of McGuirk isn’t exactly a Santiago Calatrava masterpiece, the current surrounding “cheapens” the look of the whole thing. (NOTE: I firmly believe that the enormous banners, which cover the underside of the concrete stairs, are an awesome and cost-effective way to make the outside of the stadium look more presentable)

I’m hoping that the walls from the most recent rendering surround the entire front portion of the stadium:

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 5.31.04 PM

I also hope that UMass puts together something resembling a Ring of Legends or Wall of Fame to commemorate the great football players of the past. Further down the line, the number 5 should be retired in a ceremony that includes both Marcel Shipp and Steve Baylark, two of the greatest running backs in the history of college football.

Do you think tailgating should be extended to 4 hours next year to match what is allowed for Patriots games, or should they stick with the 3 hours that were in place last season?

I never had a situation where the three-hour limit affected me, but I know there are some die-hard fans out there that would definitely try to get to Gillette at 8 a.m. – or earlier – for a noon game if they were allowed to. I think it’s one of those situations where rules can be altered by demand. If there are hundreds and hundreds of fans clamoring to get into the parking lot four hours early (See: the University of Michigan), then I think the rules could and should be changed. As it stands, if you get to Gillette three hours early for a game, you could do donuts in the parking lot with a 18-wheeler and not hit another vehicle. (Disclaimer: Do not, under any circumstances, do donuts with an 18-wheeler in the parking lot of Gillette … unless UMass beats Boston College in 2014. Even then, don’t say that I told you to. And even then, only aim for the cars with B.C. bumper stickers).

I know we don’t even want to think about this, but can you imagine the fallout if we lose to Maine this year? Should we have waited a few more years before scheduling an FCS team, just so we wouldn’t have to worry about the bad press if we lose?

While the Maine game certainly looks like a lose-lose proposition to many UMass fans, I think it could actually be a positive scheduling arrangement. During the span of a month, the Minutemen will hit the road to play a perennial Big 10 powerhouse (Wisconsin) and a Big 12 team that finished in the top 15 in both polls (Kansas State). It also will bring one of the hottest teams in the SEC to Gillette (Vanderbilt), all while trying to build some sort of optimism in an alumni base that, to be blunt, let down its alma mater last year.

With all due respect to the job that Charley Molnar has done with this team in two years, Maine is UMass’ only winnable out-of-conference game in 2013. That one (knock on wood) win will do wonders for the psyche of a team primarily made up of freshmen and sophomores who are still trying to figure out how to be FBS football players. Of course, no win is guaranteed in football. All you have to do is look back a few years when Appalachian State beat Michigan.

The Black Bears are going to be a better-than-average FCS team next year. Head coach Jack Cosgrove continues to recruit pretty well, and Maine could be a surprise team in the CAA. That being said, the Minutemen should be heavily favored to win this game. To use an old cliche, UMass is bigger, stronger and faster than Maine, and that should be evident when the two schools face off. Take Vondell Langston as an example. Langston was high on Maine’s list and would have been the highest-rated recruit in the Black Bears’ 2012 class. The Minutemen came in and offered late, and Langston immediately cancelled an official visit to Orono and committed to UMass on the spot. Langston didn’t crack the two-deep for UMass his freshman year.

On Sept. 7, UMass should record its first ever win at Gillette.

The Maine game could also help from an attendance perspective. Black Bear fans can easily drive down to the game, and Maine alumni in the area will have an excuse to check out the team locally. Last time the Minutemen played a local opponent at Gillette, 24,000 fans showed up (See: UMass v. UNH, Oct. 22, 2011). During a season where UMass needs to get its attendance figures up, the Maine game could provide a healthy boost.

We all know that The Gold Group’s marketing strategy last year to get fans to Gillette failed. Is there any reason to believe that a different marketing company could come up with a better strategy to get fans into the stands? Do you have any ideas of your own that you think should be implemented?

I know this is the Maroon Musket mailbag, but I also know that, during the course of this website’s existence, our readers have had much better ideas than I could come up with. I promise this is not my way of punting – I am genuinely interested to hear what you guys think about this one.

Have at it fellas.

Follow Bob on twitter: @BobMcGovernJr

20 Comments

  1. SJGMoney says:

    Bob, we all love the website and these discussions. Is there any way we can change the comment’s format to read “down” instead of “up”? the first comment is always at the bottom, yet replies are above it, unless you specifically reply to a comment and then it’s below it. Craziness!!

    1. Bob McGovern says:

      I’ll have to ask Marc about that one – he’s more of the nuts and bolts guy between us. I have access to the technical side, but Marc told me that he would set me on fire if I f’d anything up. I’m pretty flammable, so I will keep my hands off.

  2. Bob says:

    Plenty of innovative ways to sell tickets. But all require initiative and grassroots followup,which UMASS has neither. I gave many ideas last April, and warned of poor turnout. My fear is they wait until next August,when it is too late to start selling. Here is an easy attempt to sell tix. Fathers Day special, purchase a pair season tickets for DAD, get two free UMASS football hats. Ticket sales must commence the same day the 2013 schedule is announced. Not any later!! Also we must find corporate partners to help market, Dunkin Donuts,Cumberland Farms, 99 Rest.etc, where there are monthly or weekly drawings, as a compensation for display oportunities. Let’s go UMASS-get aggressive and don’t be afraid to call out your cheap and weak alumni base. Start by offering May’s graduates one free ticket to any game next fall and send a schedule out to every parent along with regular correspondence-ask them to come-they live in EMASS!!

    1. sleepy sheep says:

      Great points. Much more useful than the Worcester stadium wackiness.

  3. JCS says:

    I would love to see a new stadium next to the Mullins Center, but I understand that is a pipedream and there are traffic issues. Hopefully there will be more renovations down the road and that they can eventually also add more seats and accomodations.

  4. ms says:

    McGuirk needs to be rebuilt gradually, one side at at time, over a period of fifteen years. Eventually, there should be suites and a concourse, an interior level for food, a UMass store, restrooms on both sides of the stadium, infrastructure to ensure easy egress, and permanent parking. The stadium could accommodate lacrosse, soccer, field hockey, and football. Perhaps if the Krafts and the state confer, a multi-use facility for UMass and the Revs could be constructed in or around Worcester.

    1. Andy says:

      Your gradual rebuild makes me invoke my favorite saying when it comes to things like this: “I’m using my grandfathers axe. My Dad gave it a new handle and I just replaced the blade.” As for a Rev/Umass stadium in the Worcester area…BRILLIANT! I’m not one of those who feels that the stadium has to be on the campus. A new facility centrally located in the state could draw from all over. I LIKE that idea.

      1. Umike says:

        Worcester would still take over an hour to get there from campus. Plus, the Revs are Jonny Krafts baby, why take them out of Gillette?

        1. sleepy sheep says:

          Why would we willingly invest money to play one hour from campus? Most people understand the Gillette situation but college football is meant to be played on college campuses.

          1. Andy says:

            First, the idea of taking the Revs out of Gillette is nothing new. They don’t like it as a soccer stadium, and also have that 15K in a 68k stadium inferiority complex going on. I remember them wanting to build a stadium in Somerville. As for the need to be on campus, it’s more of a tradition than a need. I’ll point to UConn once again.

          2. ms says:

            I love the discussion. Excellent points. Clearly McGuirk is is insufficient for FCS football and for a university of such prominence. There is no money right now, so my wish is merely velleity. Worcester is probably too far out, but what if a stadium was built closer to Amherst? Remember when Schafer was built in Foxboro? People had no idea where on earth Foxboro was. If both the university could put such a facility to good use, and the Revs (as well as concerts), it would be a project of merit. Still, I think that the University needs an on-campus stadium–one that we can be all be proud of. Florida Atlantic finished theirs two years ago; Akron has a beautiful, intimate stadium. Probably won’t happen, but my hopes I think reflect the majority of the good folks who support our great institution. If ESPN ever televised a Thursday night game from campus (assuming we will still be with the MAC), it would be a bit of an embarrassment to us, would it not?

  5. Andy says:

    Love the mailbag. I’ll take a stab at some of those questions. 1)Bathrooms need to be relocated to the same zip code as the stadium itself. 2)agree the ticket booth setup is ancient and should be rebuilt 3)Maybe some better landscaping/dressup of the surrounding areas. 4)Audio system (as I remember it) was terribly muffled and you could never really hear the PA announcer. Replace the sound system 5)Really should’ve knocked down that old concrete bunker and built something new. I don’t even like seeing money put into that old dump. As for 4 hour tailgating instead of 3…..not needed. 3 hours pregame is plenty. Regarding Maine game: We SHOULD win, but as it says on the rear-view mirror, “WARNING: FCS DAYS ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR”. Dangerous game, because if the ball doesn’t bounce our way, the negative press will be pretty damn brutal and it will be a terrible setback. Marketing question: winning will help, but they really need to reach out more to E.Mass youth leagues and community groups to get them to games and let them know about UMass football at Gillette. As for ticket prices please don’t tell me $25.00 each ($100.00 for family of four isn’t expensive) It really adds up as families are squeezed with high food, oil, gasoline bills. There needs to be a walk up $15 ticket in a couple of sections, and trust me, there’s plenty of room to do it and still have them be good seats.

    1. sleepy sheep says:

      THE F’ING GRAVEL!

      I wasn’t going to apply to UMass becaues my first experience was the 62-20 drubbing of uconn in 1999 and I remember ALL THE UGLY GRAVEL.

      What do you think it costs to put a brick facade around the whole place with some bathrooms inside? I mean, the interior are bench seast and those are fine. Probably a $5 million project…..

  6. sleepy sheep says:

    I look forward to most games at McGuirk come 2014. You can find the RFP for the new building on the UMass Building Authority website and no mention of restrooms.

    1. Bob McGovern says:

      When I wrote about it before, it was a “hot topic” and nothing had been decided, yet. I am going to be very disappointed if none are added:

      http://maroonmusket.com/2012/10/no-expanded-seating-for-mcguirk-alumni-stadium/

      1. jpardi says:

        I just don’t understand how you can be taken serious as a legitimate D1 school if your facilities are on the same level as some high schools. Glad to see they are revamping press box and locker rooms but come on would a respectable concourse/bathrooms be too much to ask. They should never leave Gillette if that is the best their on campus stadium is going to be.

    2. Bumpa says:

      Their not going back to McGuirk in it’s current state. There is no plan to address it’s current state beyond what is starting now..and the state legislature will not build a new stadium.

      ..now this Krafts/Revolution/Worcester idea is interesting..

      They will build something for the Revs..last rumor I heard was Revere. That won’t work. But they’ll need content for their new stadium and UMass would fit the bill. Maybe a stadium in the 508 could work for both the Revs and UMass.

      1. UMass1 says:

        I see a potential problem with having a stadium “in the 508″. While I feel doing that would allow the program to continue to reach a new market (as has semi-been the case with Gillette), a good majority of students simply are not willing to kill an entire day to see a game. You need to have games on campus or somewhere very close by.

  7. JCS says:

    Winning games is the best way to draw people. I was hoping for 20-25K for the Indiana game. They got 17K and them momemtum went downhilll with the blowout loss. Hopefully at win against Maine could help along with Vandy coming to town.

    I do think the ticket prices are high for recent grads. Maybe they have special pricing if they become members of Alumni Assocation. I’m not a marketing guy but there were many people who tailgated and never went inside Gilette. I think that was also a problem at McGuirk.

  8. Jesse says:

    Partner with Wings that any student attending the game gets $5/$10 off an order (voucher when they get off the bus). Kids love the free food!







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