WKU working to make L.P. Field home for UK game

L.P. Field Seating Map

Cole Claybourn

WKU won’t be playing its home game Sept. 1 against Kentucky in Smith Stadium, but the Toppers might not realize that once the game gets started.

At least that’s the goal.

All the gameday procedures and traditions, with the exception of a few, will make their way down to Nashville for the Toppers’ season opener at L.P. Field in Nashville.

“We’re going to try to make it look as much like a WKU game as possible,” said Lindsay Thomas, assistant athletic director for Marketing and Ticket Sales. “All of our player intros will be shown on the video boards, and we’ll have both of our cheerleading squads there. We’ll have three-quarters (of the field) filled with spirit squads and Big Red, obviously.”

The plan is for the field — at least the 50-yard-line — to be painted with WKU logos, and for the wall padding behind the end zones to be covered with WKU decorations. A game at L.P Field between Tennessee State and Southern could affect those plans.

Thomas said WKU signage will also be prominently displayed throughout the stadium.

The players and coaches won’t participate in their traditional “Topper Walk,” where they join band members and the cheerleading and dance teams to march in unison toward the stadium, simply because there’s nowhere to do it.

However, following a pregame tailgate/pep rally that will run from 6:45 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Parking Lot T, the band, spirit squads, and Big Red will all march to the stadium together, Thomas said.

As is tradition at home games, players, coaches and managers will run through the inflatable WKU helmet prior to kickoff.

The only traditions that won’t happen are the newly initiated on-campus pep rally and the players touching the Red Towel statue.

Last season, President Gary Ransdell began what he planned to become an annual tradition — a student pep rally on the Friday before WKU’s first home game. The game against UK is technically WKU’s first home game, but Thomas said since it falls on a Thursday, it wouldn’t be feasible to have an on-campus pep rally in the middle of the week.

In place of that, Thomas said the players and coaches will be doing plenty of promoting during MASTER Plan week.

Some of those events include the football players helping freshmen move in on Sunday, Head Coach Willie Taggart speaking at MASTER Plan Convocation, and the Big Red Dinner in Downing University Center, where players and coaches will eat with students and talk about the game.

The Red Towel statue won’t be making the trip down to Nashville simply because it’s not practical to take it on a trip, Thomas said.

She said for games at Smith Stadium, the statue will be moving back toward the stands and will be placed on a platform for more prominent display.

However, some new things are scheduled to be unveiled in Nashville.

“We have something that no one knows about that is brand new for the entire home season,” Thomas said. “It will definitely be at all of our home games starting with the Navy game. We’re hoping it will be finished in time to roll out at the UK game.”

Thomas wouldn’t go into any more detail about it and wouldn’t give the name of the song that will be used for the intro video. She did confirm that it would be completely new from last year and feature two “current” songs.

“The players don’t even know what it is yet,” she said.

A four-minute highlight video was made from footage of last year’s WKU vs. UK game. Thomas said that will be shown before and during the game to “get the juices flowing between the two teams.”

The WKU band will perform at halftime with what Thomas described as a “bagpipe band” that’s based out of Nashville.

UK’s band will also play one song during halftime.

The Tennessee Titans’ video production crew will operate the jumbotrons and provide up to six different camera angles, Thomas said.

“Our fans will love that,” she said. “The jumbotron is huge compared to home, so I think it will be a really awesome experience for our fans.”