Stetson head football coach Roger Hughes and his staff aren't the only ones in the Hatters Athletics Department who have been busy working to make improvements for season two of Stetson Football version 2.0.
Following the end of the 2013 season, the Stetson Ticket Office sent out a survey to anyone who bought a ticket for the first season of Stetson football and asked for their thoughts on the Stetson game day experience. What they learned from the survey helped guide changes for the 2014 season.
"There wasn't much about those survey results that surprised us, but it was good to have that data to support the requests we were making,” Assistant AD Jeff Higgins said. “Our fans told us what they wanted, and we've tried to respond to those requests."
Perhaps most noticeable among those changes will be improvements made to Hatter Village, Stetson Football's fan fest area and the home of the Hatter Walk.
"At the end of last season, two things jumped out about Hatter Village – the need for a better location and the popularity of live music in that setting,” Higgins said. “We believe the improvements we made for 2014 answer both of those."
Those improvements include relocating Hatter Village from Alabama Avenue to the paved lot adjacent to the popular Fan Central Station (on the southwest corner of Hubbard Avenue and Alabama Avenue), and the booking of live musical acts to perform in Hatter Village before each of Stetson's six home games.
Those performers include local favorites such as Jeff White & Soul Taxi (www.reverbnation.com/soultaxi) for the season opener on September 6 and Homecoming on November 8, as well as Dustin Seymour (www.cmt.com/artists/dustin-seymour) and Jezebel's Tattoo (www.facebook.com/JezabelsTattoo) later in the year.
"We're still working on locking down a couple of other acts for the remaining games, and we'll get the word out as soon as we have them finalized. We feel great about the energy these acts will bring to a Stetson game day and how they can make Hatter Village a memorable experience."
Additional Hatter Village improvements include an agreement to sell beer in Hatter Village and the availability of cable television from Bright House Networks for fans to watch games from across the country before heading in to Spec Martin Stadium to watch the Hatters play.
"Bands, Bright House and beer – it sounds like a perfect tailgate party for just about any fan,” Higgins said. “We're shooting for the type of pre-game environment and game-day experience that people go home and tell their friends about. We believe this kind of special setting is what makes Spec Martin the ‘Best Little Stadium in College Football’ and we want everyone to be a part of it."
As with last year, the Stetson Football radio pregame show will originate from Hatter Village, beginning 20 minutes before each scheduled kickoff.
Other off-field changes include an agreement with the City of DeLand to have handrails installed in Spec Martin Stadium and an adjustment in kickoff times. Each of Stetson's first four home games starts at 6 p.m. or later, and the Hatters will not play an afternoon home game until November.
"Last year we had a lot of early games and one of the chief concerns we heard was about the heat,” Higgins said. “We decided the best way to get around that would be with later kickoffs. These kickoff times won't totally solve the problem, but as long as we're playing in Florida this may be about the best we can do.
"At the end of the day, everything we're doing is to make sure our fans have an enjoyable experience and want to come back. We need all the support these fans can give if we want this football program to have the best chance of being successful."
Fans who have not yet purchased tickets for the 2014 season still have time to do so. In fact, the Stetson Athletics Ticket Office is running a special flash sale on tickets to the home opener against Florida Tech on Sept. 6. Tickets in the West Reserved area of Spec Martin Stadium are being reduced to $25, East Reserved tickets to $20 and General Admission tickets to $10.
This ticket special is good only for online purchases by following the link HERE. Use the promo code WEEKEND14.
Season tickets for the entire six game home season are also available for as little as $90 and there also mini packs that group the four night games into one package for as little as $66 and two game packs that pair the homecoming game against Marist on Nov. 8 with any of the other five games for as little as $44.Visit the Stetson Athletics Ticket office, located in the Edmunds Center on Pennsylvania Ave., or call 386-738-HATS to place your ticket order. The ticket office is open daily from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Orders can also be placed online at GoHatters.com/tix or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.