The days of packing students into old school metal stadium bleachers on cool fall days are becoming few and far between. More and more university athletic departments are creating luxury experiences for football games to drive revenue and attract generous boosters.
The University of Central Florida is creating an experience unlike any other in the country. Starting this season, fans can reserve one of the eighteen on field cabanas located behind each end zone in UCF’s Bright House Networks Stadium. The cabanas will include “resort style furnishings” large enough to seat up to twelve fans. UCF experimented with the cabanas in 2015 and 2016 where fans were given an oversized tent with television and free food for $900 a game per person.
UCF has already sold nine of the eighteen cabanas for the season for just $22,000 each! For single game packages, fans can reserve a cabana for them and eleven friends for $500 per person including parking, but no food this year. AD Danny White stated, “We’re committed to creating an awesome game day experience… We want to have the most unique experience in all of college football as we strive to become Orlando’s hometown team and … a perennial Top 25 athletics department.” He added that they plan to schedule seven home games when possible and will bring in power six conference opponents for non-conference play.
The cabanas did receive pushback as students and alumni wondered how the school would afford to pay for the cabanas. In addition, many students, who will now be seated behind the cabanas in each end zone, gripe that the cabanas obstruct their view. With the cabanas being so close to the action, others have question safety. Associate AD Andy Seely told ESPN that the artist’s rendering is not an accurate portrayal and that they will be far enough away to provide clear sight and fan safety.
Single game tickets will also increase from last year going from an average of $25 to $45. This is a push to increase season ticket holders along with a season family plan, which will include two adults and two children for $299.
Fans may have some optimism on the season. Two years removed from a 9-3 season, the Knights finished winless in 2015-16 before bouncing back to 6-7 under new head coach Scott Frost, the Oregon’s former offensive coordinator.
If Florida’s football wasn’t hot enough, the blue bloods (Miami, Florida State, and Florida) now have to compete with South Florida’s new head coach (former Texas head coach) and Florida Atlantic’s new man, Lane Kiffin (former USC and Raiders head coach and Alabama offensive coordinator).