To get someone to show up at Ford Stadium, SMU is removing seats in the northeast corner of the stadium and adding a student party deck section. Last year the Mustangs averaged less than 20,000 for games at Ford Stadium.
The Mustangs were perhaps as talented as they've been in some time, and yet averaged 4,000 fans less than in 2016. College football is dealing with an attendance decline as more people consume sports from their couch instead of your local stadium.
Here are renderings of what the new section looks like:
The area is partially cover with umbrellas, the visiting/student side of the stadium is in direct sunlight for afternoon and evening games. From watching SMU games on the comfort of my couch, the seats aren't exactly hot sellers. The umbrellas would obstruct views of the area behind the party deck, but that wouldn't be a factor most Saturdays. When TCU or North Texas comes to town, it might be.
This is the trend in stadium design, more VIP areas, better food options, etc. It's the champagne room of Ford Stadium. The execution is lacking. It looks like a party deck, not a natural outgrowth of the stadium. It's a shame, SMU's campus is beautiful and consistent with its red brick buildings and white pillars. Ford fits in that mold, as does the revamped Moody Coliseum.
Maybe the athletic department spruces this up during the offseason, or perhaps they decide the scrap the whole thing and reinstall the old bleachers.
If you're an SMU fan or alumni, the best course of action, party deck or not, is get to Ford on Saturdays this fall. Enjoy the Boulevard and the game.