"Meet the Spartans" attracts record-breaking crowd
Head Football Coach Mark Dantonio and the football team signed autographs for fans and other activities occurred at Spartan Stadium during the 12th annual “Meet The Spartans” event on Monday evening.
MSU announced a record crowd of 15,000 attended the event, a figure that is certainly helped by a Rose Bowl season.
"Meet the Spartans" once took place at Meridian Mall in Okemos, but returned to Spartan Stadium for the second consecutive year.
Assistant Director of Sales and Marketing in the Athletic Department Megan Hall said "Meet The Spartans" invites fans into the stadium to get them excited about the season, especially after a Rose Bowl victory.
"I think it's a good opportunity for the fans, even the ones who don't necessarily can come to the home games, to really get face time with the players and coaches," Hall said.
She added the event lets to players and coaches give back to the community since the sport affects the greater Lansing area, especially on football Saturdays.
During “Meet The Spartans,” the offensive players signed from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., defensive players signed autographs from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Dantonio signed from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Senior tight end Andrew Gleichert said the event is a great way to interact with the fans.
“The team and I personally love (Meet The Spartans), we just love to see all our fans support us and it reassures us that we’re actually doing something that people are enjoying,” Gleichert said.
In addition to the autographs, fans were given the opportunity to tour the press box and take photos with the 2013 Big Ten Championship and 2014 Rose Bowl Championship trophies.
Fans had the chance to try on a Spartan jersey, shoulder pads and helmet for a photo opportunity.
Outside the stadium at Ralph Young Field, a punt-pass competition occurred and Zeke the Wonderdog made an appearance and put on a show.
For five dollars, fans could buy a wristband from Eat At State and have access to all-you-can-eat concessions and have a “Taste of Spartan Stadium.”
Hall said the only revenue coming in at the event was from concessions and the Spartan Book store stand.
"Everything else is just to get people familiar with everything and to try everything and hopefully they're interested in coming out to a game later," Hall said.
Graphic design junior Spencer Reynolds said he specifically came out for the all-you-can-eat food.
He added he has come out to meet Dantonio and the players before but the event has become overwhelming.
“It’s gotten hectic every year … because the team is starting to do good,” Reynolds said.
Due to the renovations at Spartan Stadium still underway, the north end zone of concourse was closed.
Hall said hopefully the north end zone will be opened for next year’s event.