The location for the inaugural Pac-12 Conference Football Championship Game may encompass a home-field feel for one of the division winners in Friday’s game to determine the league’s representative in the 98th Rose Bowl Game. However the Pac-12 has implemented measures to transform one of the toughest venues in the country on visiting teams into what is intended, at least, to appear more hospitable to out-of-town guests.
Autzen Stadium, where the University of Oregon has accumulated an 18-1 record in three seasons under Head Coach Chip Kelly, will serve as the site of the Pac-12’s first conference championship game, with kickoff against South Division winner UCLA scheduled for 5:20 p.m. PST in front of an anticipated sellout crowd and a FOX national television audience.
While some of the elements incorporated into the conference’s football championship may go unnoticed to casual observers, other changes may not be quite so subtle.
Graphics both inside and outside of the stadium feature both the Ducks and Bruins, with a new wrap on the walls surrounding the playing field adding to the championship atmosphere.
The Pac-12 has partnered with Big Screen Networks to handle the Duck Vision video board productions, Infinite Scale Design Group for event design and integrated branding, Gameday Merchandising for merchandising services and retail operations, Shoreline Publishing Group for the game program, SparkyJax for event production, Wide Angle Productions for game entertainment, Eddie Mangan for field services and Paul Olden for public address duties. Collectively, the group has been a part of 44 Super Bowls, eight Olympic Games and more than 20 major college Bowl Games, including the BCS Championship game.
Big Screen Networks has produced the video screen presentation for four of the past five Olympic Games, as well as FIFA World Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, the past 27 NFL Super Bowl productions. Infinite Scale will handle the design, strategy and project management combined with AAA Flag & Banner for planning, printing, and graphics redesign throughout the stadium. Since 2000, Shoreline Publishing Group has produced more than 300 books and magazines for national publishers, with a specialty in sports. The group has worked with the NFL, MLB, MLS, NASCAR, NBA, and other national leagues and brands to produce books in a wide variety of formats. Their team has supervised the printing of more than 25 Super Bowl programs. SparkyJax Productions is a creative, design and production company specializing in large-scale entertainment experiences with an extensive background in both sports and entertainment, including NBA games, grand openings and movie premieres. Wide Angle Group is an innovative production management company that creates special events and experiences in sports, corporate and non-profit arenas. With expertise in design, show direction and production, they have produced show events for many industry leaders, including Paramount Pictures, Anschutz Entertainment Group, Wasserman Media and Northern Trust.
Mangan, longtime Field Director for the Atlanta Braves, has worked as a field consultant for the Olympics, NFL Pro Bowls and the last 21 Super Bowls. Olden is the public address announcer for the New York Yankees and has served in the same role for 12 Super Bowls.
Longtime Oregon public address announcer Don Essig will complement Olden and add a familiarity to some of the pageantry the Ducks’ fans have come to enjoy.
While some of the elements may cause Oregon fans to question where they are watching the game, other routines will remain unchanged.
The Autzen Stadium east parking lot will open four hours prior to game time (1 p.m.), the Moshofsky Center will open at 2 p.m. and access into the stadium bowl will begin at 3:30 p.m.
Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 5:05 p.m. as both teams will return to the field from their locker rooms, aided by a 90-second highlight video featuring both participants, and fireworks to be a part of the pre-game festivities. Both teams will remain on the field for the national anthem.
Following the conclusion of the game, fans will be encouraged to remain in their seats for the trophy presentation to the winning team. Field level access for fans exiting the stadium will be delayed for 5 minutes following the conclusion of the post-game presentation.
Alternative means of transportation to and from the game is encouraged. The University of Oregon, in partnership with the Lane Transit District as well as neighboring businesses and organizations, has worked collaboratively to minimize inconveniences that may arise from the unconventional Friday night football game.
Representatives have been meeting to address the unique challenges for businesses and residents surrounding the Autzen Stadium area, including traffic flow on Martin Luther King Blvd., and transporting spectators to and from the game on a weekday.
Because of weekday commitments, LTD will be unable to provide the typical number of buses or park-and-ride locations to transport spectators to and from the game in addition to the sites that will serve as pick-up and drop-off locations for the Sports Shuttles will be reduced from eight to five for the Friday night game. However more buses will be available per location than for Oregon’s previous six weekend home football games this season.
To compensate for the alterations, Starline Luxury Coaches has been contracted to help coordinate the strategic plan, including the utilization of buses from regional bus companies that will provide the 80 buses required to maintain the Sports Shuttles to and from Autzen Stadium. LTD is assisting with the on-site logistics of service provided by the alternative carriers.
Those regular park-and-ride locations available Friday are the Eugene Fairgrounds, Symantec, Valley River Center, and Willamette between 10th and 11th (Eugene LTD Station). The park-and-ride locations that will not be in use for the Pac-12 Championship Game are South Eugene and Thurston High School (due to school in session), as well as the LTD River Road and Springfield Station sites (to avoid interfering with regular LTD transportation schedules).
To compensate for the unavailability of the LTD Springfield Station location, a park-and-ride alternative at the Eugene Christian Fellowship on Game Farm Road will be added.
Round-trip fares are the same as the rest of the season - $6 per person from all locations. Previously purchased regular-season shuttle passes are no longer valid, however LTD passes will be accepted.
Shuttle service to Autzen Stadium will begin at 1 p.m., while return trips to parking locations will be available at halftime and continue for 60 minutes following the game’s conclusion.
Buses with chair lifts to accommodate handicapped riders will service all park-and-ride locations.