COLUMBIA, Mo. – The University of Missouri’s football team kicks off its season Thursday night at home against Louisiana Tech. If you’re headed to any of the games this season, you’ll want to make sure you have your phone.
Not only will your phone hold the ticket you need to get into the game, but it can help you watch more of the game instead of waiting in line at the concession stand at Memorial Stadium.
“It’s a very unique experience,” Mizzou Athletics Chief Communications Officer Ryan Kolsen said. “First of its kind in a college football stadium.”
It’s called a food locker. You order on your Mizzou Tiger app or at the kiosk. There are 78 lockers in the stadium, so that’s less time waiting at the grill and more time watching the action on the gridiron.
“They [fans] can put their order in then they will get a text message with a locker number and a time to pick it up,” Kolsen said. “Then, they can come down, enter the code on their phone and their phone will unlock the locker for them and they can grab their food and go.”
Kolsen said the idea came after surveying fans.
“One of the biggest issues we heard from our fans is they don’t like standing in line for concession stands,” Kolsen said. “We’re hoping for a seamless experience and people to be able to see more of the game which is why they are here.”
For now, only easy snacks like popcorn, candy, and hotdogs will be for purchase in the lockers along with bottled drinks and alcoholic beverages.
For the third year in a row, only digital tickets are allowed to get into the stadium, but this year fans can scan them themselves.
“There will be scanning pedestals at every gate and fans will come up, log into the app, bring their tickets out of their wallet on either Good or Apple and then they will scan and go right in,” Kolsen said. “We tested the technology last year in some of our premium spaces.”
Football being back in action at Mizzou is like Christmas to Jeff Cook, who after he retired, moved from Florissant to Hallsville to be closer to Columbia.
“It’s my holiday season,” Cook said. “This is what I live for. This is what I do.”
Cook said he has only missed two home Mizzou football games since 1995 and arrives hours before game time each time.
“It takes me about 90 minutes to get everything set up,” Cook said. “There’s the usual tent and tables, but I also have a 43-inch flat-screen, a generator, and a portable satellite dish.”
Unlike most tailgaters, he travels with a collection of tigers.
“I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many I have,” Cook said. “Maybe two dozen?”
Cook, who graduated from Mizzou in 1980, began tailgating with his parents in 1995. Since his wife has died, he continues the tradition.
“I go into the team store about once a month during the off-season and just buy more and buy more tigers,” Cook said. “Kids would come by and see the display and my wife started giving them away.”
Cook said he doesn’t miss any games or opportunities for tailgating.
“My friends are here. I would be here for the football games regardless. It’s just a fun day,” he said. “It’s just what fall is supposed to be.”
This is the first Thursday night football game at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium since 2015. Due to increased traffic and parking, University of Missouri employees were asked to work at home Thursday afternoon.
“Almost half of our roster is kids from Missouri, so these are kids that our fans have seen growing up in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Springfield among other areas,” Kolsen said. “We’re coming off signing one of the best recruiting classes in school history. There’s a lot of excitement around Mizzou football right now.”
Other changes at the stadium include student and visiting team sections moving. The student seating will now be all together in the four sections in the northeast corner. The visitor section is moving from the 50-yard line to sections 101 and 116 in the lower part of the stadium, and sections 301-314 and 312-315 in the upper part of the stadium.
“When we go on the road, we’re either in the corner or high up, so we’re doing what our SEC brothers would do for us and now we opened those seats up for groups,” Kolsen said.
Students will also be able to use their Tiger Cash to buy food and non-alcoholic drinks from concession stands