The most exciting moment of any North Dakota State home football game usually happens when the team takes the field.
They turn off the lights inside Fargodome and blare AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” while fans watch a pump-up montage on the video boards. Then, when it feels like the place can’t get any louder, the team bursts out of the locker room and hears ear-piercing roars.
It’s a spectacle, and Chris Klieman was part of it for many years. He hopes the Wildcats can create a similar atmosphere at Bill Snyder Family Stadium when he leads them into action for the first time against Nicholls at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“I want those guys to have excitement and energy when they’re coming out,” Klieman said. “I know they will. We’ve talked about some things, but we’ll kind of let that unfold on Saturday.”
Athletic officials used one routine at home football games under former coach Bill Snyder, and fans knew what they were getting every Saturday. They played the same music during warm-ups, showed the same videos as kickoff approached and introduced the Wildcats the same way for 10 straight years.
There was nothing wrong with that approach. Some fans will never quit “Snyder Music” or the “Cat Train” video.
“I don’t think there will be a ton of difference,” K-State athletic director Gene Taylor said earlier this week. “But the music will be noticeably different and fans will see some new intro videos. When the team runs out of the tunnel, that will definitely be different than past years.”
No one wants to ruin the surprise, so details on the exact nature of those changes won’t be known until Saturday evening.
But Taylor did offer some insight on what to expect from the new pregame videos.
“They will be more jazzed up,” Taylor said. “There will be more player-related stuff instead of history. We had Snyder saying ‘This is the greatest turnaround in college football history.’ This will be more touchdowns and voice overs.”
K-State players are eager to take part.
“There’s so much anticipation with a new coaching staff and looking forward to seeing what we put on the field,” junior quarterback Skylar Thompson said. “There’s quite a few changes on the gameday experience and stuff like that. There’s just so much exciting stuff going on here at K-State, and I am so excited to get out there in front of our fanbase and play and hopefully get a win.”
Taylor hopes those changes will help convince some fans to return to Snyder Family Stadium for other games this season.
The Wildcats are expecting a sellout for the opener and are on pace to fill every seat when Oklahoma visits in late October, but a good chunk of tickets remain for the other five home games.
Taylor said season ticket sales are down by about 3,000 this season and K-State is looking to make up the difference with single-game sales, which have been strong.
He isn’t concerned by those numbers, because ticket sales are dropping across the industry. But a new gameday experience and a winning team will help reverse the trend locally.
One thing that won’t change this season: beer sales.
Taylor said K-State will wait a few months before seriously considering introducing alcohol throughout the stadium in 2020. He plans to send out a questionnare to fans asking for feedback on the topic. Do they want to purchase beer at home games? Or do they prefer the current system, which features alcohol sales only inside suite and club levels as well as a beer garden?
“That is going to be a big driver in our decision,” Taylor said. “We will have a decision for next year by spring time.”