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Mean Green football bolstered by stadium atmosphere, fans

Apogee Stadium 2011

(Editor's Note, Dec. 4 - The 2011 season concluded with a record-setting day by senior Lance Dunbar, the team's best year since 2004 and the most conference wins by a first year coach since 1973. Almost 16,000 fans braved the chilly, rainy weather Dec. 3 to enjoy a 59-7 Mean Green victory. Total season attendance, also a record, was 113,186. Learn more.).

When the ball was teed-up Sept. 10 at UNT's Apogee Stadium, above, the act signaled much more than the beginning of a football game. Spectators – more than 28,000 and the third largest crowd in UNT history - saw the culmination of months of hard work in support a new era in university athletics.

  • Apogee Stadium is the university’s largest and most ambitious building project, launched in 2008 when the UNT System Board of Regents approved plans for a new stadium, and students voted for an accompanying fee.
  • UNT attracted national attention in August with a $20 million, 20-year stadium naming rights agreement with Apogee, a network provider.
  • The stadium is the first newly constructed collegiate football stadium in the nation to achieve Platinum LEED certification, the highest level from the U.S. Green Building Council.
  • Activities coordinated by Mean Green Athletics to engage students, faculty and staff, alumni and the North Texas region have helped to build UNT’s reputation as one of Texas’ most dynamic public universities.

In the first four home games of the season, game attendance averaged 20,032, and for the first time in seven years the Mean Green had three consecutive home wins.  

The team concludes the history-making 2011 season with a 6 p.m. Dec. 3 game versus Middle Tennessee University.

The $78 million stadium began its transition from construction site to landmark in early 2011. While contractors applied the finishing touches, Athletics and the Mean Green Club put together promotional activities to re-introduce sports to North Texas communities.

Football Head Coach Dan McCarney, 2011The Coaches Caravan, a five-stop bus tour throughout the region, traveled to Denton, Plano, Dallas, Fort Worth and Grand Prairie. Head Coach Dan McCarney, left, President V. Lane Rawlins and legendary alumnus Joe Greene spoke at the events, engaging fans and generating excitement for the new stadium and the new season. Coaches from other Mean Green sports, including basketball’s Johnny Jones and Karen Aston, also participated, further positioning UNT as the place to enjoy quality, competitive athletics.

Additional activities included an all-hands-on-deck group effort between McCarney, university administration and committed alumni. Promotions included more than 40 events, plus a television commercial with NFL Hall of Fame member Greene, who invited fans to “Experience the new Mean Green.” 

McCarney, the university’s 18th head football coach, was active on campus, speaking to students and incoming freshman at summer orientations, attending a Faculty Senate meeting and issuing a personal invitation to games at the annual academic year's convocation.

Hank Dickenson, deputy athletic director“Coach McCarney not only attended every summer orientation with incoming freshmen, he actually took the new students into the locker room and gave them a pep talk about the upcoming season,” says Hank Dickenson, right, deputy athletic director. “His willingness to barnstorm anywhere and everywhere was awesome, and his enthusiasm was contagious, especially with students. The carry-over has been impressive.”

In mid-August, a $20 million, 20-year naming-rights sponsorship agreement between UNT and Apogee attracted national attention. The deal was the second largest naming-rights agreement for college football stadiums to date, and was the results of a collaborative effort between UNT, Apogee - which provides network services to university and college residences - and Premier Partnerships, a sports sales and advisory firm.

A faculty-staff open house, Denton Chamber of Commerce mixer, movie night and game-watching party for the team’s first game (in Miami) further introduced the community to the facility in the final week before the home opener.

In the first four home games of the season, Apogee Stadium averaged 20,032 attendees, and for the first time in seven years the Mean Green had three consecutive home wins, including Homecoming.

“The Houston (Sept. 10) crowd was simply electric and the fans that poured onto the field after the Indiana win (Sept. 24) made for a very memorable game,” Dickenson says. “Tailgating and pregame pageantry has made the game day experience at Apogee Stadium a unique and exciting opportunity for future growth.

“Even the traffic and parking logistics have worked out very well for the first year. The pedestrian bridge that will soon connect the Fouts Field lot with Apogee will offer one of the best parking situations anywhere in the nation.

“The energy at our home games, beginning with the home opener, has been a tangible advantage all season long,” he says. “Just look at the stats. The Mean Green is scoring an average of 16 more points at Apogee and averaging nearly 80 additional yards of total offense. The defense has made huge plays at Apogee. The word has quickly spread that the Mean Green now has a decided edge at home. There is no question that the Apogee Advantage will assist Coach McCarney and his staff on the recruiting trail." Below, senior Lance Dunbar in the Homecoming win versus Louisiana-Monroe.

The 31,000-seat stadium features luxury suites, an amenity-filled club level, Mean Green Gear store, a corporate deck and a unique end-zone seating area. In addition to hosting campus events, it will serve the entire North Texas region as a venue for outdoor concerts, community events, high school games and band competitions.

“People are literally blown away with the amenities inside Apogee Stadium – from expanded concourses, clean and accessible restrooms and upgraded concessions on the main levels to the outstanding club level and suites upstairs,” Dickenson says. “The feedback has been tremendously positive from fans, donors and professionals.”

Apogee Stadium will achieve another first in December with the completion of three wind turbines that will feed the electrical grid that powers the stadium. Using a $2 million grant from the State Energy Conservation Office, UNT currently is installing the wind turbines, making Apogee Stadium the first collegiate stadium designed to incorporate onsite renewable wind energy.  - Randena Hulstrand, University Relations, Communications and Marketing

Lance Dunbar and the Mean Green versus Louisiana-Monroe, 2011

(Photos by Jonathan Reynolds and Gary Payne.)

Posted on: Wed 30 November 2011

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