Bevo Boulevard and pregame events excite fans, kick off football season

Dina Barrish, Life and Arts Desk Editor

On Saturday, Sarah Rosseau watched a football player standing two feet away from her greet his family before the Longhorns’ season opener — her first-ever Texas football game. 

“It’s nice being able to put a face to the people you’re supporting,” said Rosseau, an undeclared freshman. “If your first impression is one with excitement and just a lot of fun, I think it carries on into the game.”

Like Rosseau, thousands of Longhorns trekked to Darrell K Royal Texas-Memorial Stadium four hours before kickoff for Bevo Boulevard, UT’s third-annual free pregame event. From 20th Street to Deloss Dodds Way, Bevo Boulevard included an 180-foot zip line, field goal challenge, Bevo parade and stadium stampede to cheer on new head coach Steve Sarkisian with the team.  

“We turn into a hype piece,” said Charles Branch, director of marketing at UT Athletics. “We realize that not everyone may be a sports fan or a football fan, but what we’re looking to do is provide an experience where there’s something for everybody.”

Along with Bevo Boulevard, Texas fans welcomed the third-annual Longhorn City Limits. Smokey’s Midway, inspired by the Texas State Fair, returned for its second year with a 45-foot ferris wheel and pirate ship ride. New this year, the Hook ’Em Hangout in the Winship Circle boasted 10 Austin food trucks, a “Big Beertha” beer truck and five mega screens broadcasting other college football games. 

Longhorns fans enjoy a Bevo Boulevard event ahead of the Texas football team’s home opener on Sept. 4. Julius Shieh/ The Daily Texan

“We really focused on also trying to integrate ourselves with everything that makes Austin great,” Branch said. “That’s why we’re bringing in the live music, the food trucks.” 

Psychology junior Bernardo Sisniega transferred to UT from Lone Star College in The Woodlands, Texas, last spring. He said the setups for pregame events on campus took him by surprise. 

“It was strange,” Sisniega said. “Here on campus last semester, I didn’t see those setups, never. … It just feels weird to me, it was overwhelming.” 

Branch said 50% of the current UT students missed out on full-capacity games and the traditional tailgate last fall, so UT Athletics plans to “re-educate” Longhorns by continuing Bevo Boulevard, Longhorn City Limits, Smokey’s Midway and the Hook ’Em Hangout every game day. He said they even plan on adding a new big feature — such as Saturday’s zip line — each week. 

“We know that we’re still coming out of this virtual world,” Branch said. “We have a lot of opportunities to grow. We’ll see how creative we can get (with) new things that we can add to make you want to come back for game two, game three, game four.”  

As fans look toward the rest of the season, Rosseau said the tailgate experience made her enjoy the game and look forward to more. 

“I don’t think you can really understand how much love people hold for UT football until you go to a football game and to the events,” Rosseau said. “(Game day) just shows the love in such an authentic way.”