Coyote Crazies and other University of South Dakota fans have more rules to follow with the installation of new student section bleachers in the DakotaDome.
One of the major rule changes is designed to keep students from blocking the LED advertisement boards above the student section.
“Right now, we don’t want you standing in front of the board,” USD Athletic Director David Herbster said. “Really, you shouldn’t just be standing back beyond there for more than a few minutes.”
Herbster said the athletic department is trying to prevent two kinds of obstruction. The first type of obstruction comes when students stand on the top row of bleacher seats in front of the LED boards. The second type is when students loiter directly in front of the LED boards.
Lt. Jef Rice of the University Police Department has been involved with the enforcement of the rule change.
“There have been times that people have been asked to move,” Rice said.
The athletic department, UPD, Student Services and Lions Club are in charge of preventing students from obstructing the advertising. There is no punishments for either obstruction, but students are asked to return to their seats.
“The big thing you’re looking for is for people to comply,” Herbster said. “With sponsors that pay money to be on those boards, they want people to see their boards.”
Ben Flora is the account executive for Coyote Sports Properties, which is in charge of marketing for USD sports. He said 40-45 different businesses advertise on that particular board, with the size of these businesses varying.
“(The LED board behind the student section) is one of our more popular pieces of inventory,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a local restaurant, and sometimes it’s a major insurance company.”
Travis Lee, general manager at Coyote Sports Properties, said there are two reasons for not wanting students to block the LED boards.
“We don’t want anyone to get their fingers caught or potentially hit their head on the metal framing,” he said. “We certainly want to protect our clients to make sure their ads are being viewed during all the events at the DakotaDome.”
Rice said in addition to keeping the LED boards visible, the walkway needs to be clear. Before the new student bleachers were put into place, the athletic department made it a priority to have more accessible entrances and exits for students.
“It makes it easier for people to get to and from seating if the area is clear,” Rice said.
Graduate student Franklin Epperson was standing in front of the top row of bleachers during the first half of USD’s victory against Northern Arizona and he said no one prohibited him from doing so.
Herbster said the athletic department said they did not notice the problem until the new bleachers were completed.
“When we built the new bleachers, one of the things we didn’t plan for on the upfront side until they were actually completed is the walkway that’s back by the LED boards,” he said.
However, the decision to not allow students to stand in the walkways or on the seats of the top row bleachers was made before the first football game of 2014.
“I might be a little more cautious than necessary,” Herbster said. “But I’d rather be cautious upfront and deal with any issues that come from me being cautious versus having anything unintentional happen.”
(Students can no longer stand on the top row of the student section in the DakotaDome because an advertisement LED board must be visible at all times. File photo / The Volante)