For those students who have never been to a home football game — and judging by our attendance and stadium size, there are a lot of such people — the idea of going to an event as big as a football game without prior experience may be pretty daunting. Many prospective students also assume that a home game is strictly a sporting event that may not be interesting. This post, then, is to serve as an introduction to what a game is like and as an explanation of how games are entertainment and social events in addition to athletic ones.
Aggie Stadium is on the corner of Hutchison and La Rue, across the street from the cow barn (not to be confused with the old Toomey Field by the Death Star). There is a parking structure on Hutchison, as well as lots on La Rue. Consider taking the O-line in on Unitrans to avoid the parking crunch.
There are a certain amount of bike racks in front of the stadium, but they can fill up. If you bike there, bring a buddy so you can lock bikes together if necessary.
Pre-Game Activities / Arriving Early
Generally as a student, you can arrive a half-hour before game time and secure a 50-yard line seat in the first four rows. For games with giveaways or major significance (like Homecoming) expect it to be more crowded and require an hour-in-advance arrival.
Once you secure your seat, take turns with people to hold seats and spend time poking around the stadium looking for giveaway booths and the like. You can also use this time to chat with the Aggie Pack leaders and maybe get an in on participating in some sort of fan participation event.
If there is a major giveaway like hats or t-shirts, your goal should be to be within the first 200 people in the stadium or so. This can be tricky to judge and may result in getting there too early and lingering with the tailgaters before choosing to jump into the line.
If you arrive more than an hour in advance, you can’t get into the stadium but have several entertainment options in the tailgate field. Usually there is some sort of special event (Salute to Heroes, Food Truck Night, etc.) going on before the game. Sometimes the Band-Uh! does a pregame set. Last year, the team did a cool-sounding but actually underwhelming “March to Victory” where they paraded through the tailgate field before entry.
Students enter through the west gate (the one facing La Rue). You don’t need to do anything other than present a valid Aggie Card to get in free. Don’t bring any food or beverages into the stadium, and prepare to have your bag searched. AggieHost swipes you in like at the DC, and tends to deny you re-entry until late in the game.
If there’s a line, it will follow the gate away from Hutchison and start curving towards the grad school buildings. If you are arriving late to a popular game prior to opening time, be prepared to actually get in line near the Aquatics Center rather than at the gate.
Stadium Layout / Student Seating
As you enter, the side nearest to you is the student side. Enter the bleachers near the 50-yard line (keep your Aggie Card out for security to check at the stairs) and pick whatever row you desire. Band-Uh! will be on your left, if you have a preference of being nearer to or farther from the music.
Note: you will be facing the sun, so bringing a hat or sunscreen is a seriously good idea. The bleachers are reflective and there is zero shade in the student section. This is more a problem earlier in the season.
You can optionally sit in the grass end zone areas as well, though you will be sharing the space with picnicing families. Some people try to get in the scoreboard’s shade on the south side, a difficult proposition as the shade moves throughout the night.
The game is an hour long and has 15-minute quarters. Two-thirds of football involves waiting for something to happen, so expect a three-hour game. Down time occurs at the change of possesion and in between quarters, so use it to socialize, get food, and get free stuff.
Students in the main sideline section are expected to stand during the game — Aggie Pack and the hardcore fans will heckle you if you don’t. The general rule is to be relatively quiet when we are on offense, but to be loud and obnoxious when our opponents have the ball to distract them. (It sometimes seems to work, but it’s an inexact science.) Other than that, Aggie Pack will provide easy-to-follow directions for any other cheers or activites they want the section to perform.
If you are up-and-about in the stadium, you won’t miss the game because there are still announcements echoing around. Additionally, certain locations have television monitors showing the game and the restrooms may be broadcasting the radio call.
At halftime, Band-Uh! will do a marching show that can range from straightforward, like a Santana show, to very tounge-in-cheek, like a dorm hookup themed show. (This is also a welcome time to sit and rest your legs and voice.) It may be tempting to get food or use the facilities at halftime, but you hit long lines and risk missing the band if you attempt it. Leaving your seat well into the third quarter is a much more efficient option.
If there is an advertised giveaway, it will likely occur right as you enter the stadium where an Aggie Pack member will hand you the gear. Some tents and booths may contain smaller giveaway items near the gate; it is usually a good idea to stake down a seat first then go back to those.
Throughout the game Aggie Pack will throw stuff into the crowd. The highlight is tube socks (valuable only because everybody wants them) which get thrown out every touchdown. The first four rows of the student section are generally the best places to get them, though Aggie Pack does distribute them in the grassy areas.
Once a game, generally after the third quarter, Aggie Pack will also distribute pizzas. If somebody near you has one, don’t be afraid to fight your way in and grab a slice — they’re supposed to share. Paricipating in timeout events like “Hair Guitar” may also win you a coupon or some other prize.
If you’re near the front as the game ends, consider high-fiving the players as they walk past the edge of the stands. A few minutes after the game, the remaining students and players link arms to sing the Alma Mater accompanied by Band-Uh! (Lyrics may be provided on the video board.)
If you are willing to wait around a few more minutes, Band Uh! will perform a set in front of the Victory Bell outside the gate you entered. Afterwards, walk, bike, bus, or drive home safely and tell all your friends about the great experience.
-UC Davis games are rich entertainment events that feature live music, free giveaways, and other promotions that are fun entirely separate from the sports.
-Arriving a half-hour to over an hour early is usually optimal.
-Students have some of the best seats in the house, but you have to stand up and face the sun.