MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – After months of practice and preparation, regional rivals collide Saturday in a football game you can watch only on Local 24.
The 2019 college football season kickoff for the two teams is also the debut for several new wrinkles inside and outside Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Those changes include retired Memphis football players on the east side of the stadium, which crews finished installing in the last 48 hours.
With around 50,000 fans expected – maybe more – stadium staff said they’re ready with more than enough ticket scanners, open gates, and even bottled water.
“You know, it’s a great chance for our city, our stadium,” Liberty Bowl General Manager Thomas Carrier said.
Carrier said his staff rolled out some changes this year. While the clear bag policy remains in place, there’s a quicker option for fans without them.
“Not everyone has a bag, we do have no-bag lines as well at our gates,” Carrier said.
When they aren’t looking on the field, fans will also enjoy the view from the brand new video board on the Liberty Bowl’s north end.
“Clearer quality, higher quality, a lot more functionality,” Carrier said.
On an expected warm Saturday afternoon, Carrier said there won’t be a repeat of a 2017 game, when the Liberty Bowl temporarily ran out of bottled water.
“We’ll have approximately five times more water on site, bottled water, than we’ve ever sold at a game,” Carrier said.
Liberty Bowl organizers said they’re also excited to roll out a new free shuttle service this season.
“Will have seven or eight stops throughout the property that fans can hop on, travel to another location, hop off,” Carrier said.
Memphis interim athletic director Allie Prescott said the heavily anticipated football and men’s basketball season is a big reason Tigers apparel is flying off the shelves in recent months. More money from that uptick in sales benefit all Memphis sports programs.
“Selling merchandise is a big way for us to supplement our normal streams of income, with ticket sales and media rights and things like that,” Prescott said.
Every dollar made from merchandise especially counts at a university like Memphis, which gets far less money in media contracts compared to conferences such as the SEC.
“The business model of the Power 5 schools getting $50 million and the people in the ACC not getting $50 million, you know, we’ve got to be creative and we’ve got to be nimble about ways to generate revenue,” Prescott said.