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Gameday ritual to change

Liz O'Donnell | Thursday, August 27, 2009

A hospitality village, ticket scanners and public parking on the Notre Dame Golf Course are some of the additions that will be implemented this fall for home football games.

The new game-day initiatives originated from from an ad hoc committee study that took place last school year, according to a press release.

The committee’s study ran from the middle of football season last year to late February when the findings were submitted to University President Fr. John Jenkins.

They reviewed a variety of data collected throughout the fall, including campus interviews, community interviews, and tips received from a feedback website.

Director of Game-Day Operations Mike Seamon said the goal of the research was to gather information from as many sources as possible.

Seamon, who is also the assistant vice president for University events and protocol, was named director of game-day operations in April, after the committee recommended the need for a central person to be in charge of the new initiative.

“We heard from people the experience could be better,” Seamon said. “Fr. John has a continuous improvement model for the university that he took and applied to game-day. We are proud of how we are, but we know we can get better.”

Seamon said the addition he is most excited about is the addition of “Rally on the Green,” a new hospitality village that will be located on Irish Green. It will feature live music and kid-friendly entertainment.

“People will feel it,” Seamon said. “It’s something you can’t necessarily describe.”

Also new for this season will be the implementation of a communication system to help people provide feedback about their game-day experiences. Included is a new text-messaging system that allows fans to contact the University to report unruly conduct.

Seamon said he visited several NFL teams and “cherry picked” the best practices of what they did and applied them here. He said Notre Dame is not trying to become like an NFL team, but rather trying to apply the best ideas from professional football to Notre Dame’s game-day experience.

“We can only get better when people tell us what’s going on,” he said.

Other additions for this fall include the opening of the North End of Notre Dame Stadium from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. for fans to walk down the tunnel and onto the field for photo opportunities.

Seamon said they will be asking for feedback through the website gameday.nd.edu as well as through a toll-free phone number 800-ND1-FANS. Both hardcopy and e-mail surveys will be available towards the end of the season as well.

“This is a continuous process that is just beginning,” he said. “We will be constantly tweaking the improvements that we have already made.”