View from Southeast Level 6, East Stadium. UNL Photographic Services.
By Randy York
Forget about Nebraska’s great escape from Wyoming in Saturday night’s nationally televised season opener that drew 91,185 fans – the largest home crowd in Memorial Stadium history. Focus instead on the thousands of new season ticketholders in the expanded East Stadium that doubled the 90-year-old stadium’s height and redefined the Memorial Roar. What did these lucky charmed people think about sitting in wider seats equipped with backrests for the first time since they became available while the Huskers added 38 new suites and more than 2,000 new club seats? Were their sweeping views worth the investments they made to become part of the greatest fans that pass through these historically remodeled gates?
The N-Sider waited until the second quarter before randomly selecting feedback from fans sitting in the rows of seats that sit on top of the suites and club seats and stretch from one end of the field to the other. Let the record show their collective reaction rated somewhere between absolutely adoring and outright loving their new perches, even though they were making their debut on a scorching night with dripping humidity. I will report the reaction from every person I talked to, including an unexpected football loving, celebrity-like family, so keep reading because I promised myself to communicate in the order in which I interviewed.
The Views Are Awesome at the Very Top
First up are Dwight Rasmussen and Catherine Sutera, who were sitting with three of their children and a family friend in the very top row of Section 606. Dwight is a farmer/rancher and Catherine a family doctor in Chadron, Neb. The couple has four tickets, but not together, in the West Stadium and two in the South Stadium. “I’m a big guy (6-1, 290), so we wanted to give these bigger seats a try,” Dwight said. “When we stayed in Norfolk last night and looked at where we would be sitting, we were a little scared about how high we would be. But it’s awesome up here. They’re great seats. We could feel a breeze, and we couldn’t be happier.” I asked both how they would rate their new seats on a scale of 1 to 10. Within seconds, they agree that it would be somewhere between a 9 and a 10. “I love the backrest, and the seats are awesome,” Catherine said. “I love the knee room, and the seats are perfect,” Dwight said.
Next up is Ryan Broerman of Omaha. He and his girlfriend bought two seats in Section 605 because the season ticketholders did not want to attend a game with such searing heat. “I wanted to give these seats a try,” he said. “I’m afraid of heights, but it’s awesome up here. You can see everything.”
You Don’t Even Have to Move Your Head
During the game, Michelle Devine of Albion, Neb., takes a quick concession break from her Level 6 seats. She and husband Andy Devine prefer their new seats in the East Stadium to what they had in the North Stadium. “You don’t even have to move your head to watch the game,” Michelle said. “You see everything. It’s crazy how much better the view is up here, and it’s nice to see what all they’ve done in the Haymarket Area from this vantage point. It would be fun to have season tickets at Pinnacle Bank Arena. That whole area is beautiful.”
Larry Niemann is retired and lives in Seward, Neb. For 35 years, he helped sell season football tickets to members of the Nebraska Coaches Association, but his new seat in the expanded East is his favorite. “A friend of mine bought one ticket, and I bought one, and we sit together,” he said during the easiest concession break he’s ever experienced inside the stadium. “I love my seat. It’s great. You can see the holes open up for the running backs, and you can see every time the receivers get open.”
The Hoffmans Fulfill a Family Dream
As I trudge up the next small set of stairs in the southeast corner of Level 6, I hear a familiar voice say “Hi, Randy.” I turn around and see Andy Hoffman sitting in an aisle seat in Row 11 and son Jack sitting next to him. In front of them are his mom, Breanna Hoffman, and Jack’s two sisters. Yes, it’s a five-star seating arrangement for the original members of Team Jack, including Jack, who’s wearing Husker jersey No. 22. The Atkinson, Neb., family is celebrating two special moments on a hot night season opener: 1) their first-ever season tickets; and 2) a text they’d received before the game that Rex Burkhead was now officially a full-fledged NFL football player after making the final 2013 roster for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Jack prayed hard about his buddy, Rex, Friday night, and Saturday night was a double celebration getting to sit in seats they actually owned. “We’ve been bumming tickets our whole lives, ever since we started listening to Nebraska football on the radio,” Andy said. “We’d put in twice before to get tickets and weren’t even going to try a third time until I read your blog about these seats last spring. We talked about it and then applied. We love these seats. They feel like club seats to us. I think everybody in this whole section feels the same way. There was a buzz up here tonight. People are enthusiastic, even giddy. Bri didn’t want to apply for tickets again, but she’s really glad we did. I’m not making this up. When she read that blog, she agreed to put our names in again.”
Robinsons Cross One Off Bucket List
Brent Robinson and wife Diane of Omaha feel just as excited as the Hoffman family. “We’ve applied, but never gotten tickets until this year,” he said. “That’s always been a dream of both of ours. It’s a bucket list thing for us, and the first thing Diane said when she woke up this morning was why today is historic because it’s our first day as season ticketholders, and we finally get to use them. It’s a different feeling driving up to Lincoln. We just couldn’t be happier. We’re tickled to death with the seats we have, the view we have, and the excitement we feel. I’m 53 years old, and it’s nice to have tickets that we can call our own. I’m a graduate of Nebraska, and I’m just as happy about being able to pay a seat fee to get these tickets. It feels good to give back to a place that’s given so much to me, and that makes me even prouder.”
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Voices from Husker Nation
I have tried for season tickets for 20 years and was never successful. This was the #1 on my bucket list and finally got them. The view is great. The room and the backrest are awsome, and I’m 20 steps from the bathroom and concessions. I couldn’t be happier, and I hope I never have to give them up. Rich Mustion, Hershey, Nebraska
Nice report on the new seats at Memorial Stadium. Like others, I have put my name in for tickets but have not been chosen and was not available to put my name in for these new expanded seating. Are there season tickets that have not been sold as yet? I had heard that some were held back, but maybe that is not true. Thanks. Roger Wiese, O’Neill, Nebraska
Editor’s note: The 2013 Nebraska football season is sold out. Fans can, however, submit requests to be placed on a 2014-15 season ticket wait list.