Nebraska recently released the results of the Memorial Stadium survey. How was the response to the survey? Athletic director Trev Alberts called it “incredible” during his monthly athletic director show on Sports Nightly.
With data now in hand, Alberts said he and a group are meeting every two-three weeks to work on the next steps. That includes diving into the data and determining what needs to be addressed first.
“We are going to do everything we can to be responsive to the requests of our fans,” Alberts said. “As I’ve said 100 times, we have nothing here without our fans. We just don’t. That’s the separator for us.”
That means Nebraska will do what it can today, but then work on a strategy for the future. That may include a phased approach. Some immediate requests that will be addressed: seat comfort and WiFi, because those two have areas that can be improved quickly.
When it comes to seat comfort specifically though, there are some limitations with a 100-year-old stadium. The challenge Nebraska will face is something called “tread depth.” In order to add stadium chairs—which is something fans have asked for and Alberts acknowledged many just wanted something to lean back on—you would need a tread depth that is a minimum of 33 inches. Nebraska’s tread depth does not meet that requirement, meaning the fire marshal would not OK the addition of chairs or backings to seats.
Could Nebraska just remove the current concrete and re-pour it? Maybe, but there are still some potential concerns.
“It was built in 1923 and the engineers will tell you it will only handle certain weight, so the struggle and challenge will be is if there are things that preclude us from being responsive to the needs of our fans,” Alberts said. “We’re not there yet but there are limitations of a 100-year-old stadium.”
One other area of the survey was the potential alcohol sales at Nebraska sporting events. Of the 20,000 respondents, 72% said they had a positive or neutral attitude toward alcohol sales. Nebraska had the opportunity to test alcohol sales at the Big Ten Wrestling Tournament, which went well from Alberts’ perspective.
“We didn’t have any incidents, but much of what we anticipated on the revenue side came to fruition,” he said. “You’d probably have a $5-to-$6 cap without alcohol and we were about double.”
He added that Nebraska had roughly a $350,000 gross profit from alcohol at the event, which was a major positive. As for what that means going forward at other events, that has yet to be determined.
More news and notes:
>> Wing Keon Edwards entered the transfer portal on Thursday, which prompted a question for Alberts about the transfer portal. Has it changed college athletics?
“It really has,” he said. “The portal is the reality of where we live in college athletics today.”
Alberts added that while those in athletics always want clarity surrounding change, his job at Nebraska is to find solutions for student-athletes. He also said Nebraska has benefitted from the portal, so it’s always going to have positives and negatives.
>> Alberts spent time in Indianapolis with both the men’s and women’s basketball teams for the Big Ten Tournament, and also traveled with the women’s team for the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m really proud of Coach Williams and really proud of those players,” Alberts said. “We talk a lot as an administration about having the type of programs and teams that reflect the value of our alumni and Nebraskans.”
He said he was proud of Williams and her team for what they accomplished, saying they were competitive, disciplined and played for one another.
>> Alberts said he was proud of the wrestling program for how they turned their Big Ten Tournament finish around and went to nationals, placing fifth overall at the NCAA Tournament.
“I really appreciate Mark Manning,” Alberts said, adding that the team is still not satisfied with the result.
>> Alberts was complimentary of track and field coach of Gary Pepin and his willingness to make changes to help bring more success to his teams. Alberts also encouraged fans to get out and support the track and field teams, especially as the outdoor season begins.
Nebraska’s new track is completed, but has had some “hiccups on the Phase 2 component.” That includes the grandstand and the press box, but Alberts said Nebraska is doing what it can to ensure the experience is positive for fans and student-athletes.
>> Nebraska football moved its spring football practices up to accommodate new FieldTurf being installed in the stadium this spring and summer. Alberts said the new turf will be the same type of turf that’s already there, but it will be one-color green now (versus the two-tone field that is there now). Alberts joked that he wants to be “a little boring” on this. All other markings will remain the same.
As for the spring game on April 9, Nebraska has sold 42,000 tickets so far. Alberts would like to see that above 50,000.
>> Alberts couldn’t say much about the NCAA investigation into the Nebraska football program, but he did provide a small update.
“We are working on a negotiated resolution,” he said. “I think we’re getting close to the finish line. It won’t be forever and we’ll get that behind us and we’ll move forward appropriately.”
>> Nebraska volleyball sold all 6,000 tickets to its spring game in eight minutes.
“What I’m really excited about is that our volleyball team is playing out there,” Alberts said about the game being held in Grand Island.
>> The Red Carpet Experience has been such a success that other sports reached out asking to be part of it.
“Just really great,” Alberts said about the excitement for the program.