Saturday, September 3, 2016

Tech Gameday for Dummies 2016

Written By Travis Napper, CVB President/CEO 

The kids are back in school and everyone is starting to put their summer vacations in their rear-view mirror, which can only mean one thing: it's football season in Ruston, as well as across the South. To get everyone prepped for the first Louisiana Tech Football game of the year coming up on Sept. 10, I thought this Game Day guide might be helpful to all Bulldog fans new and old!


Loyal Blue Weekends
This year, we're welcoming a new LA Tech Football tradition, Loyal Blue Weekends. The pre-game festivities will kick off Friday night in Downtown Ruston with kids' activities, spirit groups, live music, and more fun! Read more about Loyal Blue Weekends here.

What to Wear
Show some spirit! You are there to support your team, so dress for the occasion. Check to see if it is the “Red Out” Game (hint: it is 10/1). If not, you should be wearing BLUE! Homecoming might be a good time to dress a little nicer, but it’s not necessary. Also, don’t forget to check the weather. Umbrellas aren’t allowed in the stadium, so rain boots and a poncho are your best bet for rainy games.

As the crowds continue to grow, the need for parking grows too. Refer to the map below to see all of the available parking options. Take note: it is only a 10 minute walk from behind the bookstore to the stadium. A new option this year is the Tech Trolley! Park your vehicle in Downtown Ruston and catch the trolley at Railroad Park, which will transport you to the Joe Aillet Stadium free of charge. The Tech Trolley will run continuously 2 hours prior to kickoff and 1 hour after the game. 

Football Parking Map

There are a number of ways to take part in the tailgating experience. The Argent Pavilion is host to the Louisiana Tech Alumni Association Tailgate for LTAC and Alumni Association members with the opportunity to join on site. They usually have a great offering of food and drinks, and it’s a prime spot to catch up with former classmates. There is also plenty of group and corporate tailgating that takes place along Tailgate Alley adjacent to the Argent Pavilion. Most tailgaters will welcome any friendly fan. Setting up your own tailgate is another option and is allowed in all four parking lots (A, B, C, D) around Joe Aillet Stadium, the grass areas surrounding Joe Aillet Stadium, and the Thomas Assembly Center (including Garland Gregory Hideaway Park). RV spaces are available for guests attending football games. Contact the LTAC and Alumni Association office (318-255-7950) for more information.

There are plenty of pre-game activities to match any interest. Bulldog Village (opens 3 hours prior to kickoff), located at the bottom of the Thomas Assembly Center steps, has live music, the Ruston Brick Kids Zone, face-painting with Tech spirit groups,  photo stations,  interaction with LA Tech student-athletes, Barnes and Noble Bookstore  and more.  There is also a tailgating cook-off judged by student-athletes. The “Walk of Pride” (2 hours prior to kickoff) has become a Tech tradition. The band plays in front of the Argent Pavilion and then leads the Bulldog football team through the crowd of cheering fans on their way to the locker room.  All fans are encouraged to head to the stadium 30 minutes prior to kickoff to not miss any of the pre-game entertainment.

The Game               

Joe Aillet Stadium has been home to Louisiana Tech football for the past 45-plus years. Since opening in 1968 at a capacity of 23,000, it has seen many changes and updates. The most recent update being the addition of the Davison Athletics Complex, bringing the stadium capacity to 28,019. Check out our feature on the Davison Athletics Complex here. New turf, called FieldTurf Mono, has recently been installed. It offers some of the most vibrant colors and great cushion and safety for the players.  As you walk around the outside of the stadium, make sure you notice the stadium banners honoring Terry Bradshaw, Willie Roaf, Fred Dean, Joe Aillet and Maxie Lambright, some of Tech Football’s most successful  alumni. For a stadium seating chart click here.

Joe Aillet Stadium seating chart (click to enlarge)

Concessions are located in six convenient areas on both the east and west sides of the stadium, with many new vendors added including Wing Stop, a candy stand, taco truck, iced tea stand, java drinks, smoothies and more. Alcoholic beverages are only allowed within the Club Level of the Davison Athletics Complex. 

Video Board
The addition of the video board in the North End zone has brought a new definition to the full game experience.  Sometimes referred to as DawgZilla, the Origin Bank video board now provides the fans with instant replay and great intro videos, as well as some pretty neat fan interactions.

Post Game

Where to Stay
Any of Ruston’s area hotels are the logical choice, of course. All are located within 8 minutes of the stadium. However, as with most college towns, hotels near campus tend to be very busy and often full on the weekends of home games. The good news is there are some great alternatives that are very convenient: TDR Home Rental propertiesThe Cottage as well as the RV and camping sites at the beautiful Lincoln Parish Park.  And of course, you could always try to bum a stay from family or friends!

Where to eat/drink
While you have plenty of tasty options for tailgate foods on game day, if you are anything like me you will want to make it a full weekend of food and football.  After the game, you might be ready for another snack and a few beverages while catching the late west coast games on TV.  For this, I would recommend Dawg House Sports Grill.  After you sleep in a little and before you get sucked into the noon Saints game, I suggest trying out the Sunday Brunch at Beau Vines Steakhouse. These two are just a few of the many great culinary options in Ruston, so visit our website and blog for more restaurant profiles.

A Few Things to Remember

  • Beat the crowd. Arrive 3-5 hours before kickoff to avoid traffic, have more access to parking and have first pick on certain tailgating spots.  And remember, if you don’t want to miss any of the official pre-game entertainment, make sure you are in the stadium 30 minutes prior to kickoff!
  • Clean up before kickoff. Bring your own trash bags and water down hot coals before heading to the stadium. Please respect LA Tech and its campus.
  • First aid is available for fans at Joe Aillet Stadium. West Concourse (Press Box side): The First Aid Station is located at the base of the elevator shaft. East Concourse: An ambulance or First Aid tent will be located next to the Police Mobile Command Center outside the gates. Contact an usher if you have an emergency. North side: An ambulance will be parked next to the videoboard on the North side of the stadium.
  • Don’t drink and drive — give up the keys. If alcoholic drinks get the best of you, make sure someone sober takes the wheel. 
One last thing!  Do you have your tickets yet?

Travis Napper is from Monroe, La., but has called Ruston home for 13 years. He is a LA Tech alum and devoted Bulldog fan. Travis is a proud husband to Brittany and father of two children, Emory and Stover. In his spare time he enjoys cheering on the bulldogs and enjoying local events. 


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