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Game day changes a success

Sarah Mervosh | Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Saturday’s season opener proved to be a success on and off the field as fans responded favorably to changes made to improve home football weekends, Director of Game-Day Operations Mike Seamon said.

“All early indications are that we had a really successful weekend,” Seamon said. “We were very happy with how everything unfolded.”

Friday afternoon marked the first time that the tunnel to the stadium was open to the public, and over 3,500 people walked through the tunnel for photo opportunities on the field, Seamon said.

One couple from Tennessee made the trip to South Bend solely to go through the tunnel.

“They literally drove up here on Friday, did the tunnel, took the pictures of the tunnel, and then drove back home,” Seamon said. “They didn’t even stay for the game.”

Seamon said fans were grateful for the opportunity.

“It was countless stories of people never being able to see that before,” he said.

Seven hundred people took advantage of the new parking option Saturday when the Notre Dame nine-hole golf course was opened to the public for parking and tailgating, Seamon said.

“I spent a lot of time out there on Saturday morning to see how it was coming together and people were just [really] positive,” he said. “The people who came got in real easy and got out real easy.”

Seamon said with good weather, the golf course could be a parking option for up to 2,000 people. But if it rains, the course will not be open for parking.

Thirty guest service people wearing green blazers were scattered throughout campus Saturday to provide information and assist guests, Seamon said.

“When we work and study and live here, we know everything that’s going on. A lot of people here for the first time don’t know where the bookstore is or what time the band is playing,” he said. “So these folks really help people out.”

“They gave a lot of visitors maps. They gave them a game-day guide,” Seamon said. “They’re taking pictures of people. People say, can you get a picture of me in front of the Grotto?”

Another highlight was the new “Rally on the Green,” which took place Friday afternoon and Saturday before the game. Over 5,000 students, alumni and guests came to Irish Greens, the field behind DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, to listen to live music, eat food and play games, Seamon said.

“We just had a ton of people go through there,” he said. “People kind of used it as a gathering spot. I think it will only continue to get bigger and better each week.”

Seamon said changes to improve security, including a system where fans sent text messages if someone was being unruly, and ticket scanners to make the entry process as smooth as possible, were also successful.

Seamon did not have specific information about any arrests made Saturday and representatives from Notre Dame Security Police could not be reached due to the Labor Day holiday.

But Seamon did say the weekend was both successful and safe, overall.

“We think everyone had a pretty safe and good time,” he said. “It was a really good weekend.”