Sideline changes would alter student seating at Faurot Field

April 25, 2017 GMT

COLUMBIA, MO. • Missouri football coach Barry Odom wants to switch the team sidelines on Faurot Field, a move that would require some seating changes and has at least one student organization unhappy about the proposal.

Odom and members of Mizzou athletics department met with student leaders from nine different campus organizations last Thursday to discuss Odom’s proposed changes, MU athletics spokesman Nick Joos said. Odom wants the Tigers’ bench to be moved from the east sideline to the west sideline at Memorial Stadium and the visiting team moved to the east sideline.

Odom believes there are competitive advantages to having his team on the west side, Joos said. For one, during game days, the team on the west side is in the shade and not staring into the sun on the hotter side of the field. Also, Odom believes the opposing coaches in the west-side press box have a clearer view of coaches’ signals and personnel moves that come from the east sideline.

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“There’s an opportunity from a signal standpoint and formation standpoint and even and players entering and exiting the game that it gives you a better (chance to) disguise, for the lack of a better word, when you’re on the press box side as opposed to being more open on the east side,” Joos said.

OK, but there’s a holdup. There’s a Southeastern Conference rule that states home student sections are prohibited between the 30-yard lines and up through 25 rows behind the visiting team’s bench. In the stadium’s current seating design, student seating takes up the sections directly behind the east team sideline. Under the proposal, those seats behind the visitor’s bench would be filled by fans from the visiting team.

“By SEC rule you have to give the visiting team 1,000 seats in the lower bowl,” Joos said. “They would fill in 1,000 of those (seats). Then we’d start a young alumni and recent grad ticket program for inexpensive season tickets over there (behind the visiting fans.) Player guests seating would be over there, too.”

That arrangement would displace some student sections to the outer margins of the front sections along the east side, outside the 30-yard lines.

Only one student group, Tiger’s Lair, was resistant to the proposal, Joos said. The Tiger’s Lair is the school’s “official student cheering section for the Missouri Tigers,” according to the organization’s web site. “The Tiger’s Lair promotes school spirit and excitement at all home football games through the performance of organized card stunts and cheers, and by providing a great environment for costumes and spirited signs,” the site states. “Members of the section are recognized as the wildest, most dedicated, and most enthusiastic at Mizzou football games.”

The school’s Missouri Students Association Senate Twitter account posted a message Tuesday saying a resolution to support Tiger’s Lair to maintain its current seating location will be heard Tuesday night.

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In a statement sent to the Post-Dispatch, the student organization declined comment, saying only, “Tiger’s Lair is examining the situation and refraining from comments at this time until we gather more information on this matter.”

Joos said MU hopes the have the seating arrangement resolved in the next month if not sooner.

Joos said there are also concerns about Mizzou and opponents having to cross paths to enter and exit the field under the current arrangement. The visitor’s locker room is underneath the stands on the east side of the stadium, but the visiting team has to walk under the south bowl, past Mizzou’s locker room, to reach the west side of the stadium before the game and after halftime.

“There certainly has been some sportsmanship issues in the past, not necessarily at Missouri but in the news nationally,” Joos said.

“If a move like this can get a two or three more wins over the course a year, you just don’t know,” Joos added, “but it’s obviously something (Odom) believes is important enough to bring to the administration to discuss. We’re trying to gather all the feedback we can and then we’ll make the best decision possible.”

Mizzou’s season kicks off Sept. 2 against Missouri State at Memorial Stadium.