No secrets have been made about Middle Tennessee's strive to enhance its fan experience at Blue Raider football games this season, and Blue Raider Athletics Association members got an early chance to see some of those enhancements on Thursday.
A wet run of the new Blue Raider Beer Garden, created in partnership with Hop Springs Beer Park, Steel Barrel Brewery and the MTSU Fermentation Sciences program, allowed BRAA members to sample some beer and cider, talk Blue Raiders sports with coaches and athletics staff, and listen to some tunes in the south end zone of Floyd Stadium.
"It's really a neat concept," Middle Tennessee Director of Athletics Chris Massaro said. "This is a huge element for us. Watching it come together today is really meaningful ... it's really unique to be down on the field and have a craft beer garden with a different beer every week.
"We did a really good job last year [in the first year of selling alcohol at athletics events] of making sure we were problem free, and we need to be problem free with the Beer Garden, as well."
The Blue Raider Beer Garden is the first of its kind in college football. Located at field level in the south end zone, beer will start flowing 30 minutes before stadium gates open with different Steel Barrel craft brews available for purchase, as well as grilled food and tables with umbrellas. There will also be an area for corn hole, giant Jenga and other games.
Also, students in MTSU's Fermentation Science program will provide ideas and input to Hop Springs for the brewery to create small-batch brews that will only be served in the beer garden. Each beer will have a different name with a theme related to the week's opponent.
Entrance to the field level area is free with a ticket to the game for those 21 and over.
"It's about attracting and growing the environment here, bringing more people into the football games to enjoy the atmosphere, and to pioneer this kind of initiative," BRAA member Casey Rainey, Class of 2002, said. "I just think it brings a great experience to the football game, and hopefully more people come in to watch these guys play."
Middle Tennessee started serving alcohol at sporting events in the 2018-19 school year, and it was an obvious hit among fans. Expanding that to the beer garden this season is just another way MT is trying to connect with the Blue Raider faithful.
"I think if you're trying to grow your fanbase, especially your younger fanbase and your younger alumni who've just graduated, it's an awesome way to do that," Rainey said. "I'm glad they took the initiative and went forward with it."
Make sure to take advantage of the new and exciting fan experience enhancements by purchasing season tickets today. Fans can order online at GoBlueRaiders.com/tickets or by calling the ticket office at 615-898-5261.