GAINESVILLE, Fla. - UF fans at the Swamp will have a chance to get in on the action this season like never before while creating a lifetime memory.
The school launched a new Florida Gators app for mobile devices that, among other things, offers the chance for a fan to get involved in pretty much every way shy of calling a play for coach Dan Mullen's offense.
"That would be a good one," UF athletics director Scott Stricklin said with a laugh.
Termed "Swamp Moments," fans - for a $25 fee - now can greet players as they get off the bus for Gator Walk. A $100 fee gives fans a chance to watch the halftime show from the field. Fans can play catch on the field after the game for $200 and for $350 sing the alma mater on the field with the team following a game.
"You think about the things we get to be a part of all the time through our work and how special it would be for fans to have some part of that," Stricklin said. "You'd love to throw it open for free, but logistically it's not feasible. So it's a way we can let people who want to participate to have an avenue to get on the field or be a part of Gator Walk, little things like that that let's people inside the ropes, to see what that's like."
While the athletics director at Mississippi State, Stricklin offered a similar experience for Bulldogs fans based on ideas used by some professional teams.
Stricklin also is well familiar with the excitement of fans who get their first peek behind the curtain.
"Anytime I'm on the field with someone for the first time, they're blown away with what that feels like because it's so different than being in the stands," he said. "On the field when the team runs out, pregame. I think those are going to be very popular because it's a totally different vibe.
"The emotions are different, it's so visceral right in the middle of it."
But the Florida Gators app eventually should benefit pretty much any of the 80,000 to 90,000 expected at the Swamp on Saturdays, adding ease and convenience to the game-day experience.
People can connect to their Ticketmaster account and store tickets digitally. Student tickets this season will be exclusively digital while other fans can use either paper or digital tickets in 2019.
"With the goal of all tickets being digital next year," Stricklin said.
Fans also will be able to pre-order food at the concession stands and pick it up without having to wait in line.
"There's a lot of little things like that that are going to help make the overall experience better just because, theoretically, you're going to have fewer people standing in line," Stricklin said. "We haven't figured out a way for the app to impact the restroom experience yet. But we think in a lot of other ways it's got a chance to make immediate impact, and I think it will continue to grow."
Another feature of the Florida Gators app is called Swamp Stats.
This allows people to record the games they have attended dating to the 1995 season. The app then will determine the Gators' record during those games and tell people their longest attendance streak. A person will receive a virtual badge of honor for seeing UF win an SEC title or achieve other benchmarks.
Eventually, Gator Stats will include games prior to 1995.
"It gives them a chance to back and reminisce and think about the games they've been at," Stricklin said. "There's a lot of cool functionality there."
The possible sale of beer and wine is one aspect of the game-day experience this season that has yet to be decided, Stricklin said.
"We'll have something at some point. I don't have anything to say at this point," he said Friday. "We're still having conversations. We're studying it."
The SEC announced in early June that schools could sell beer and wine in general-seating areas at sporting events for the first time in league history. At the time, Stricklin said he would have to discuss the school's position on alcohol sales and future plans with a host of groups - school president Kent Fuchs, student affairs and university police, among them - before deciding whether to take advantage of the rule change.
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