DAILY Photo by Emily Saunders|
Rita and Don Sims, left, and Kevin Corum, all of Hartselle, outside The Zone skybox at the north end zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa before the Nov. 11 Mississippi State game. “What the university has done is taken what is typically some of the worst seats in the stadium and turned them into a good place to watch the game,” Corum said.
Zoned in at Bryant-Denny
New skybox makes end zone the place to be at Bama games
By Deangelo McDaniel
DAILY Staff Writer
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2469
TUSCALOOSA — Maybe you think your recliner or your sofa is the best place to watch an Alabama football game.
Some area Crimson Tide fans won't agree, in part, because they have watched Alabama football this season from The Zone.
The Zone is a sprawling skybox that is part of the $45 million expansion at Bryant-Denny Stadium in the north end zone.
On game day, Kevin Corum of Hartselle said it becomes a shared skybox for some of the most avid and loyal Alabama football fans.
"What the university has done is taken what is typically some of the worst seats in the stadium and turned them into a good place to watch the game," Corum said.
Don and Rita Sims, also of Hartselle, agree.
"We still have our season tickets in another part of the stadium, but I like The Zone," Don Sims said. "It gives you a different view of the game. Whoever came up with this idea is a genius."
The view is not the only privilege that comes with seats in The Zone. But don't be fooled by what you see from another part of the stadium. Zone ticket holders are like most avid Alabama football fans.
They prefer Alabama sweatshirts, caps and blue jeans to starched shirts and ties. And, when it comes to yelling at the coach, they are as loud as fans anywhere.
Remember when Alabama kicked a field goal on its first drive against Mississippi State?
"Not another damn field goal," one Zone seat holder said.
"Didn't coach (Mike) Shula learn anything from the Tennessee game?" another asked.
Fans yelled those same comments from the south end zone and from the student section.
And, after the loss to Mississippi State, the fire Mike Shula comments came from every part of the stadium.
The red chair seats in The Zone are not like the bleacher seats in the other end zone. Behind the glass is a big food spread. Unlike concession stands in the stadium, there's no waiting and you eat as much as you want.
Regan Golightly of UA's Skybox Office is director of The Zone.
She said one of the most attractive features of The Zone is that it gives Tide fans the choice of watching the game from the stands or from inside a climate-controlled environment.
"If they get too hot, they can come in here, cool down and still watch the game," she said.
There are other privileges that accompany season tickets in The Zone. You get a balcony view of the team when the players enter the stadium down the Walk of Champions. You receive all the food and beverages you want throughout the game and a parking pass near the stadium. There are no restroom lines. Zone ticket holders receive a locker where they can leave items like binoculars and coats.
Yes, you can purchase a hamburger or hot dog in the stadium. But in The Zone, the menu is different for each home game.
During the Mississippi State game, for example, part of the menu included crab dip, a pasta platter, barbecue pork and chicken sandwiches, Asian shrimp stir-fry, loaded potato skins, a garden salad and hotdog bar.
Part of the Auburn game menu Saturday includes a seven-layer Mexican dip, grilled and fried chicken sandwiches, madiera tenderloin tips and shrimp and sausage jambalaya.
"They have fruit and vegetable trays and all the dessert you want to eat," Rita Sims said.
$1,500 plus season ticket
The service comes with a price. Golightly said fans pay $1,500 for a seat plus the cost of season tickets.
Even though the tickets are pricey, they are not easy to get. Before the season, the university sent a brochure to all Tide Pride members. According to its Web site, Tide Pride is the university's official ticket priority program that administers about 48,000 seats at Bryant-Denny.
Scholarship Club level Tide Pride members had the first opportunity to purchase zone seats.
"I don't think they made it to any other level," Don Sims said. "They were gone pretty quick."
Area Alabama fans have used The Zone for purposes other than watching Crimson Tide football.
In September, Carson Beddingfield of Athens and Brady Wakefield of Springville were the first couple to marry in The Zone.
Beddingfield and Wakefield, both Alabama graduates, were attending a home game in 2005 when they decided to marry at Bryant-Denny.
"Something came on the JumboTron about the stadium expansion and I told Brady we should get married here," Beddingfield said in September.
The wedding was historic, but make no mistake, the university designed The Zone for football.
Radio in the restrooms
No matter where you stand in The Zone, for example, you can see the game on television.
And, if they need a bathroom break, radio coverage is available in the restrooms.
"It's the ultimate place to be, if you're going to watch Alabama football," Rita Sims said. "Of course, you may put on a few pounds from all the food, but I guess that's a small price to pay for the comfort."
Because of the amount of food available in The Zone, the Simses have changed their game-day schedule.
"We usually come down on Thursday or Friday, but we don't do any cooking on game day anymore," Don Sims said. "The Zone takes care of food for us."
Corum and his wife, Sally, are Alabama graduates. Their two children, Anna and Hunter, are students at Alabama. The Corums typically don't tailgate.
"But we eat and sleep Alabama football," Corum said.
He said The Zone gives him a view of Alabama football he has never had.
"You can see the plays develop," he said. "When the line opens a hole, you see it. That's what I like about being up here."
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