Ryan Field student section switches sides
February 6, 2014
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Northwestern students will have a new view of Wildcat football next season.
The Wildside student section, as well as the Northwestern University Marching Band, will move to the southeast corner of Ryan Field opposite its previous location, the athletic department announced Tuesday.
Until now, television cameras had faced away from the students, capturing a disproportionate number of opposing fans, whose designated section will move from the east to west side of the stadium.
The changes came after talks with Associated Student Government and focus groups with students, athletic department spokesman Paul Kennedy told The Daily. Kennedy said students called their seats “some of the worst in the building” and complained they were unable to see the video board from their seats and were not visible on television. Moving Wildside was the logical solution, he said.
“We can’t move the video board and we can’t move the TV, unfortunately, so we moved the student section and the band,” Kennedy said.
The restructured seating chart could improve the television presentation of Ryan Field, which often appears overrun by visiting fans during big games due in part to the direction of cameras.
In another notable change, the Cats will now choose which sideline to use each game. In the past, NU has stuck to one side for an entire season — west, in recent years — but beginning in 2014, the team will make that decision week-to-week, depending on the weather and other factors, Kennedy said.
Kennedy said the athletic department is constantly discussing ways to improve what he called the “Ryan Field experience.”
“We’re thoroughly evaluating everything at all times,” he said. “If we can fix something immediately, we’re going to fix something immediately.”
The Cats’ football season opens at home against California Aug. 30.
Ava Wallace contributed reporting.