Mean Green hopes for Apogee Stadium to be center of home-field advantage

Mean Green hopes for Apogee Stadium to be center of home-field advantage

August 13
12:19 2014

Ehsan Azad / Staff Writer

Editor’s note: This story originally ran saying that UNT’s average home attendance last season was 21,093 students per game. This was an error as the attendance was actually 21,093 fans per game. The story has been updated to reflect this correction. 

Even though the Mean Green football team is coming off its most successful season since 2002, the team still believes it can be more dominant at Apogee Stadium, where it only lost one game last year.

The team owns a 12-5 record at Apogee since the stadium opened in 2011. The Mean Green was 1-16 at home in the previous three seasons combined. Yet, bringing in crowds seems to be the main problem. In its first two seasons, Apogee brought in an average of 18,900 fans-per-game.  The numbers went up last season, averaging 21,093 fans-per-game, but that was still  short of actually selling out the stadium which seats 30,850. Apogee has still never been sold out and head coach Dan McCarney knows crowds are essential to building a home-field advantage.

“If we can’t have some identity and some recognition and some respect from our fans at home then we are going to have trouble improving that fan-base and getting people that give a damn about North Texas football,” McCarney said.

One thing that McCarney tries to do is personally recruit freshman during summer orientations to come to football games.  The students arrive at the stadium to see Scrappy the mascot, the cheerleaders, the cannon firing off and the video board in action. McCarney has been doing this with athletic director Rick Villarreal the last four summers.

“I’m hoping for the first time since we opened Apogee, we can fill this thing up for the SMU game,” McCarney said.

The first home-game of the season will be against Southern Methodist University on Sept. 6. The game will start at 11 a.m. and will be shown on Fox Sports.

McCarney said that people might wait to see how the team does against the University of Texas in the first game of the season before deciding if they want to come to other UNT games.. He said that he noticed a lot of people who never came to home games were in attendance at the Heart of Dallas Bowl.  He wants those Mean Green fans that were at the bowl game to come to Apogee Stadium and help sell it out.

“Let’s make it the norm and not the exception,” McCarney said.

An increase in fans would help create a home-field advantage and the players said that playing at home with an energized crowd helps them on the field.

“You want the fans really loud so the offense can’t hear, which creates miscommunication and penalties,” senior linebacker Derek Akunne said.

Akunne said that the most important time to have the fans be the loudest is on third down, which really helps the defense get energized to make a play and get them off the field.

“The fans are going crazy and we are feeding off that,” Akunne said.

The team feels that another part of creating a home-field advantage is to create a winning culture.

“If you are at your house, you don’t want anyone coming in and trying to take it,” senior offensive lineman Cyril Lemon said. “This is our house and we are going to try to protect it with everything we got.”

The stadium could see a boost in attendance this season not only from the effects of last year’s successful season, but the approval of beer sales. The beer sales were recently approved over the summer by UNT officials. Another change at Apogee will be the location of the student section. A Conference USA rule will prohibit students from sitting in the first five rows behind the visitor’s bench between the 35 yard-lines. Those 240 seats will now be available to young alumni that have graduated within the past five years.

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