Striping the Stadium

The University of Illinois is trying something new for its football fans. The loyalty that Illinois fans bring is exceptional, but with a football program that hasn’t been playing up to par in recent years, it was time to test the crowd. The idea then came to “stripe the stadium.” The date was set for October 15, 2011 for the Ohio State game; one of the biggest games of the year. It was going to be at 2:30 in the afternoon and the primetime game on ABC. The pressure was on for Illini Nation. Fans were encouraged to wear either orange or blue depending on what section they were seated in. The student Block I section and the other odd-numbered sections were to wear orange, and the even-numbered sections wore blue. Then all in attendance would also be able to take part in a panoramic shot of Memorial Stadium via a 360 degree picture they would take after the third quarter.

Using this FanCam technology, a one-of-a-kind picture was created. This idea has only been done on a few other college football venues, including Michigan and Wisconsin. The resolution of 20 billion pixels made it possible for fans to zoom in and find themselves no matter where they were sitting. Fans were able to go online later and “tag” themselves in the shot and then share it with their family and friends, as well as purchase memorabilia as souvenirs. All that tagged themselves in the picture were also entered in a contest for tickets to games later in the season.

Striping the stadium would mean that a lot of advertising had to be set up to get all of the fans to wear their proper colors. This was no small task. It’s hard enough to get everyone to wear orange to the basketball games, and this involved even more coordination. With all of today’s technology, this mass announcement was meant to get to everyone attending the upcoming football game. New social media methods were used such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as more traditional forms of communicating such as the local newspapers and newscasts. Maps were displayed to show which sections were colored orange and blue. If the crowd wasn’t going to be into it, and wasn’t willing to fully participate, the idea would fail.

Luckily, the fans prevailed, and the photograph was a success. There have even been blogs posted about seeing who can be found in the photo; maybe a celebrity or two if you look close enough. There hasn’t been a lot of fan involvement since the Chief was let go as the Illinois mascot, but with a nice new stadium and some new fan support ideas, perhaps the football program can get back into the swing of things.

With the 2012 football season bringing in a lot of new faces to the program, testing fan participation and trying this out for the second time was a success, and seems like it will become a regular event during football season in years to come.

Want to see what the final product looked like, or find yourself if you were part of this special photo-op? Check out http://www.fightingillini.com/fancam/ and see who you find!

 

About: Lexi Shurilla

Sports and writing are two of my passions, and mixing them together with being a die-hard Illini fan only begins to describe me. I am now a University of Illinois Alum with a degree in News-Editorial Journalism after graduating in May 2012. Promoting my school is something I do best, and my enthusiasm and loyalty shine brightly.