Kyle Field Was Ready for Its Close-up
Sights from Texas A&M’s first game at the newly renovated Kyle Field.
Welcome to the new and improved Kyle Field! On Saturday, Aggie fans experienced the glory that is Texas’s biggest stadium, the “world’s biggest tailgate,” and an absolute crushing victory over Ball State. Gig ’em.
The new Kyle Field had its long-awaited debut Saturday, when the Aggies broke in the revamped stadium in a home opener against Ball State. The $485 million renovations began in 2013 with what was essentially a piecemeal dismantling and rebuilding of the entire structure, but now the university’s crown jewel is back and bigger than ever. With a seating capacity of 102,733, #KyleField is now the largest stadium in Texas, the biggest in the SEC and the fourth largest in the country. What else is bigger in #Aggieland? Part of the renovations included adding a 7,661 square-foot video board, which beats UT’s Darrell K. Royal stadium's puny 7,437 square-foot screen. Attendance for the 56-23 blowout was 104,213 (we'll let you do the math for that one), but fans began pouring back out into the night around the 49-3 halftime. — Jeff Winkler @ThatWinkler
A simple tailgate wasn't enough for #KyleField's grand re-opening. The festivities really kicked off with Midnight Yell Practice on Friday, which included fireworks, because how else does one properly ring in the new digs? AggieSports noted that "lines started forming more than three hours before," the practice. Part of the reason was the new field, surely. The other possible explanation for the record-setting 50,000 participants? "Free T-shirt." Saturday's fun started just after sunrise (the schedule's designated start for tailgating was 7 a.m.) and raged on through the weekend. Big-in-the-aughts band Relient K and Texas country artist Pat Green hosted a free concert on Simpson Drill Field while kids, like three-year-old Brooke Kilmer (pictured above), got a *very* early start on spring training. Sunday, too, was host to an "open house" of Kyle Field's West Side. But judging from the rowdy crowd, it's likely the students were still snug in their beds by the time that 2 p.m. tour rolled around the next day. — Jeff Winkler @ThatWinkler
One of the most wonderful joys of a Texas football game are the women in their cowboy boots. Sure, there are plenty of dudes wearing kickers, but none look as crafted and ornate as the ladies' leathers. There's also an enjoyable incongruity of tough-looking stompers paired with a flowing dress. The women hanging out at the Beta Theta Pi tent seemed to have the best collection of Texas footwear in the entire park, and they were more than happy to show them off. Left to right: Lauren Couillon (@laurencouv Jade (@jadecattt), Sara Manifould (@Sara__mani), and Emily Moran (@efmoran) — Jeff Winkler @ThatWinkler
There's a host of reasons why A&M is one of the most intimidating football venues for visiting teams. There's the #12thman spirit, of course, and now there's the diminutive feeling that comes with stepping inside the SEC's largest stadium. But having a stadium half filled with military men and women probably doesn't help either. As an outsider who's never witnessed the Aggie's pre-game buildup, the Corps of Cadets March-In struck me as one of college football’s most fascinating traditions. It's something out of an old black-and-white movie, not a performance one expects to see in this day and age. Ten minutes before the cadets were scheduled to appear, fans lined Joe Routt Boulevard and Houston Street, four-deep, in eager anticipation for the march. Cheers went up as the truck carrying the touchdown cannon whizzed down the lane. Finally, the Corps made their way down the lanes, yelling cadences such as, "Used to date the Beauty Queen, now I date my M-16!," as the gold-colored spurs from the Senior's Boots clacked rhythmically on the asphalt. Save for many of the college-aged kids still tailgating in Spence Park, the progression drew a wide mix of fans, some scurrying across the road like squirrels when there was a break in the parade. The cadets never wavered, staring straight ahead and marching strong. — Jeff Winkler @ThatWinkler
"You can't miss the field," a helpful #KyleField stadium employee told me just inside the press entrance. "It's a tunnel of light." How true! To walk out onto the field surrounded in every direction by a towering mass of maroon left me awestruck. The back-and-forth sway of the fans during the end of the #Aggie War Hymn, however, was downright terrifying. What were once individuals linked arms and became a part of the collective crowd, forming a unifying and pulsating, seemingly sentient mass that threatened to gobble up the stadium. In the press box, which floated over the student section, there were mild concerns about how much it would sway once the crowd got going. It seems the answer was "a lot." And how did everyone like the new stadium? The older fans seated on the Southwest side seemed a little bored (it was a blowout), but hardly anyone in the whole place looked disappointed. Even one of the custodians who traveled with me down the elevator as I was leaving was in good spirits, and she was on her way to clean up a mess. It would seem someone had pre-gamed a bit too hard, turning a tiny section of the brand new stadium into their personal vomitorium. "I don't know why they pay all that money to get drunk [and be sent home]," she said. I preferred to think of it as an event-appropriate christening of the new complex. — Jeff Winkler @ThatWinkler