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Ask the AD

Sept. 21, 2012

Winning and graduating our student-athletes are the top two goals for the Auburn Athletics Department.

Make no mistake about it: Our goal is to compete for championships and to prepare our student-athletes for successful lives and careers. That has been and will continue to be the primary goal for all of us who work in the Auburn Athletics Department.

As I tell our student-athletes at the beginning of every academic year, they are the only reason we are here. They are not here to serve us. We are here to serve them. We have no higher purpose than to see to it that each of them has an opportunity to grow mentally, physically and spiritually each day during the time they are with us.

As stewards of the Auburn Athletics Department, we are also mindful of the importance and the place of athletics within the university community. Athletics is more than a source of pride for Auburn University. It is in many ways the university's front porch, bringing alumni and friends together for events throughout the year and keeping them connected to this special place we call home.

For those reasons and more, we have for the past several years worked hard to provide a professional gameday experience for our fans and guests. We can all probably agree that Auburn's gameday experience and traditions are second to none, but we are not satisfied. As a result, we have begun a process to continuously enhance the gameday experience and improve the customer service we provide—from the moment a ticket is purchased until the last tailgater pulls out of Auburn.

Our goal as it relates to customer service is simple to say but hard to do. We want to be the best at customer service in the Southeastern Conference. With one home game behind us and a prime time game looming Saturday, we hope that you may have noticed.

Our staff and our vendors who do everything from stubbing tickets to pouring cold drinks at Jordan-Hare Stadium have been trained better than they ever have been before. We have newly trained Jordan-Hare Stadium Ambassadors circulating on gamedays to help our guests, and we've partnered with the Hotel & Restaurant Management program to give students hospitality training at our football and basketball games. We're not perfect yet, but we're getting better.

We've tapped into technology to provide the best gameday information we can through a cleaner and more robust gameday website. We've launched new Twitter accounts and armed our guest services personnel with iPads so we can provide up-to-the-minute gameday information. We've modified our prohibited items list to allow fans to bring iPads and tablets to the game and made wifi access available in and around the stadium at a reasonable rate.

We've launched a better Auburn mobile app that includes gameday information and GPS capabilities free of charge, added over 40 new flat-screen TVs at the stadium, installed more ATMs and hard-wired all of our concession stands so fans can use debit cards for gameday purchases. More shuttles are now running to our parking lots to help get fans to the stadium, and new express lines were implemented last week to get fans without bags through the gates more efficiently.

Those are just a few of the gameday improvements fans may have noticed last Saturday. While our past efforts have largely been confined to gameday itself, this year our staff began working with other units on campus and agencies in the community to broaden our goal from the gameday experience to the gameday weekend experience.

We are doing this because we know fans can enjoy every game on high-definition television from the comfort of their homes. Yet we also know there is nothing quite like Auburn on gameday weekends. As I have told our staff many times, we have to continue to give our fans more reasons to find value in the hard-earned dollars they spend on tickets. We have to give fans more reasons to come home to Auburn, and that is exactly what we are doing.

Last weekend, a large crowd of fans enjoyed touring the Jordan-Hare Stadium locker room on Friday afternoon from 4-6 p.m. Some even dined on Pat Dye Field at Café Jordan-Hare, a unique experience that will be made available on a limited number of Friday evenings this fall.

Thanks to a collaborative effort with the City of Auburn, the Chamber of Commerce, the Auburn-Opelika Tourism Bureau and the Auburn Alumni Association, on Friday fans also enjoyed a street party with live music in the newly created downtown entertainment district. The next "Autumn Nights" will feature Chevy 6 on Nov. 16.

We encourage you to come out and enjoy these and other events each and every home football game weekend. This Friday night, bring the family and a blanket to Plainsman Park to enjoy a showing of Madagascar 3. Like most of these new events, admission is free. The gates open at 7 p.m.

If you're here early enough, you might want to hear esteemed historian Dr. Wayne Flynt speaking about the "Status of the American Dream and College Sports." Dr. Flynt is the second speaker in the Gameday Lecture Series, which will take place at 4 p.m. each Friday of home football games at the Auburn Alumni Center.

You can find out everything you need to know about these and many more gameday weekend activities at AUBgameday.com. You can also follow @aubgameday on Twitter.

We look forward to welcoming the No. 2 ranked LSU Tigers to Jordan-Hare Stadium at 6 p.m. Saturday. I know we can count on you to make your presence known to the visiting Tigers. There is little doubt that you are the main reason Auburn has won 15 of its last 16 games at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Remember to wear orange. I encourage you to get there early, to be loud and to stay late.

Thank you for your support. God Bless and War Eagle!

Jay Jacobs
Director of Athletics