SE: Excitement for K-State Football's Home Opener Sky High

For Justin Silmon, the first time running out onto the field at Bill Snyder Family Stadium creates an indescribable feeling.

“It’s loud. The energy, the crowd,” the sophomore running back said, trying to recreate it in his mind. “It’s just crazy.”

As K-State’s players walk through the tunnel of the Vanier Family Football Complex, limestone walls lit with purple lights create an ambiance for them to take in. Banners inscribed with head coach Bill Snyder’s 16 Goals for Success are attached on both sides. One final sign hangs above the opening onto the field. It reads, “Family,” which Snyder has repeatedly said includes the 50,000-plus fans in attendance.

“We’ve always had amazing fans and an amazing student body, and that’s motivational to the young guys in our program,” Snyder said. "They’ve always felt that, and looked forward to it.”

The Wildcats’ streak of sellouts is expected to hit 28 games Saturday in their home opener against Florida Atlantic, ending a long wait for K-State football in Manhattan. Saturday’s 1:35 p.m., kickoff will mark the latest date K-State’s opened up at home since 2001, when the tragic events of September 11 pushed back its first home game to September 22. It will be the latest scheduled home opener since 1992, Snyder’s fourth year leading the program. 

Snyder, whose K-State teams are 22-2 in home openers, said the anticipation has been evident after losing at Stanford 26-13 and having it followed with a bye week. 

“I think they’re excited about being able to play at home. It has been a long time,” he said. “I said the other day, we’ve had 100 practices and haven’t played at home yet. That’s very uncommon for us. I sense the anxiety. I probably have a little of it myself where I normally don’t.”

The Wildcats’ eagerness for the home opener stems from a variety of places. 

For seniors like Charmeachealle Moore and Dante Barnett, knowing their number of home games is limited adds a boost. 

“We’re very excited,” Moore said. “It’s my last year and everybody’s excited to play at home.”

“No one knows what it’s like to play in our stadium. That feeling that you get is like no other,” said Barnett. “We just can’t wait to play.” 

D.J. Reed, a sophomore transfer, is simply ready to experience what he’s heard repeatedly from his teammates.  

“It’s packed all the time, that’s what everyone tells me,” said Reed, who was on hand for the K-State men’s basketball team’s upset over No. 1 Oklahoma last season. “That game was crazy and they said football is like 10 times as loud. I’m looking forward to that.”

K-State’s attendance the last four years has been at an all-time high, highlighted by a school-record average of 53,100 fans in 2015. Its sellout streak is expected to reach 33 games this season. 

“I feel like after playing in all of the Big 12 stadiums, our stadium just gets louder and it stays that way throughout the entire game,” senior defensive end Jordan Willis said. “To me, it’s just a different feeling. I can’t explain how different it is compared to other stadiums.”

K-State fans will also be able to enjoy the enhancements from the completion of Phase 3B of the Bill Snyder Stadium Master Plan, which includes a 360-degree concourse, a second Carl & Mary Ice Video Board and a special-designed showcase stage for the Pride of Wildcat Land band.  

“We got the best fans in the country. There’s nothing like the home games here. Throughout the whole game there’s a lot of energy,” Silmon said. “I’ve played in front of some big crowds, but K-State is still the loudest crowd I’ve ever heard as far as the places I’ve been so far. That’s why I think it’s so special. 

“I’ve played in stadiums where there’s probably 10,000 or 20,000 more people than us, but I know that we got the loudest fans.”

Once players get a taste of the Wabash-loving Wildcat fans, the hunger for more seems to only increase. 

“We talked about it the other day, ‘What’s the loudest game you ever played in?’ ‘It was here at Bill Snyder Family Stadium,’” senior nickelback Donnie Starks said. “We’re definitely looking forward to it.”

For redshirt freshmen Trey Dishon and Reggie Walker, who only experienced home games from the sideline last season, their desire for the real deal is extremely high. 

“The atmosphere of being in that stadium is special. I’m just excited to go out there and be on the field now,” Dishon, a starting defensive tackle, said. “I got a little bit of a taste at the spring game, but the coaches said this is a different game day here at Kansas State. So when you’re out there, you got to be listening, you got to be ready, you got to be focused because the crowd’s going to be loud, especially on the defensive side of the ball.”

“That crowd is pretty wild. Last year was pretty nice to be able to see it,” added Walker, starting at defensive end. “Now, I’ll be able to play in front of them, so this is going to be a big deal.” 


Wildcat fans visiting Manhattan for the eighth-annual K-State Family Reunion against Florida Atlantic on Saturday are invited to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Phase 3B of the Bill Snyder Family Stadium Master Plan while also being reminded of gameday policies which include the new clear bag policy.
 
In addition to the game, which will kick off at 1:35 p.m., and be televised on FSN, below is a list of highlighted activities and reminders for all Wildcat fans:
 
Clear Bag Policy Reminder

To provide a safer environment and significantly expedite guest entry into our venues, K-State Athletics has implemented a new bag policy for all ticketed K-State events. Clear plastic or vinyl bags and one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar) will be permitted. Small clutch bags, no larger than 4.5 x 6.5 inches, with or without a handle or strap can be taken into the venue with one of the clear plastic bags. Prohibited items include purses larger than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, fanny packs, cinch bags, non-approved seat cushions and chairbacks, luggage of any kind, computer bags and camera bags or any bag larger than the permissible size. Fans can visit the Gameday page on k-statesports.com for more detailed images and information.
 
Phase 3B Ribbon-Cutting

Fans are welcome to attend a special ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the completion of Phase 3B of the Vanier Family Football Complex prior to Saturday’s game. When stadium gates open at 11:30 a.m., fans are invited to meet at the northeast corner of the concourse for a brief ceremony. Once the ribbon has been cut, fans will be able to walk the new full, 360-degree concourse for the first time. The festivities will include University President General Richard Myers, Athletics Director John Currie, SGA President Jessica Van Ranken and Director of Bands Dr. Frank Tracz. A pep band representing the Pride of Wildcat Land Marching Band will be the first to enter the new section of the stadium, which includes the Showcase Stage for the marching band.

New Instant Replay Feature

During official reviews this season, fans can tune in to the stadium video boards to see live views and footage of which the replay officials are reviewing.    
 
Traffic/Parking

Fans traveling westbound on I-70 should be aware of bridge repair work at the east Manhattan exit (Exit 313) reducing the interstate to one lane approaching the exit. Otherwise, traffic in and around Manhattan should be normal for gameday with no major construction projects in progress. Parking lots open at 8:30 a.m., Saturday, five hours prior to kickoff.  Parking in the east and west lots of the stadium is reserved for members of the Ahearn Fund and requires a pass for entry.  Paid parking for fans with disabilities is available on a first-come, first-served basis in the east and west stadium lots. To gain entry, guests must display a state-issued accessible license plate or hangtag and present a disability card along with a form of personal identification.  All other general public parking is limited to grass parking in Lot 9 east of the stadium, in the paved lot of the Peters Recreation Center or in private satellite lots and parking areas on campus.  Parking will be available in the grassy area of the KSU Foundation lot at the corner of Kimball and Denison Avenues. Additional public parking is available near the Equine Center north and east of the fire station on Denison Avenue and north of the sheep grazing lot on Denison.  General public parking fees are $20 for cars.