Longhorns Lasso New Concert Series

University of Texas teams with promoter C3 Presents on pregame shows

  • by Chad Swiatecki
  • Published: November 7, 2018

The Longhorn City Limits concert series, new this season at the University of Texas, is bringing fans out to Longhorn football games earlier. (Courtesy University of Texas)

When Chris Del Conte arrived as the new athletics director for the University of Texas in January, he challenged the staff to come up with ideas for how to improve the game-day experience for the school’s storied football program.

Athletics department staff moved quickly, and one of their first across-the-board successes was the creation of the Longhorn City Limits concert series outside Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium before all six home games this season.

The free series takes place on the LBJ Lawn outside the northeast corner of the stadium, with room for up to 8,000 fans to gather for performances by two acts each week. A roster of corporate partners such as Nissan, Allstate, Coca-Cola and Corona activates on site for the concerts.

Longhorn City Limits runs in tandem with the Bevo Boulevard street festival — named for the school’s live longhorn mascot, Bevo — which takes place along the western edge of the stadium.

Del Conte pushed for changes that led to Longhorn City Limits and Bevo Boulevard as well as more friendly concession prices inside the stadium, said Charles Branch, senior marketing coordinator for fan engagement for University of Texas athletics. “A Texas football home game is a celebration in all facets, so what are we doing to celebrate this university and make it the best experience possible for our fans? We took that as an opportunity to make changes to all facets of our game-day operations,” Branch said.

Aloe_Blacc.jpgAloe Blacc performed at Longhorn City Limits before Texas' game against TCU on Sept. 22.

The new activities have improved the pregame atmosphere at the school, which is landlocked in an urban setting and doesn’t have ample room for tailgating and other traditional pregame gatherings. “It has been immensely successful, bringing our fans down here by the stadium earlier than ever, and for the first time in a long time the game-day environment and buzz around the stadium is getting started five hours before kickoff,” Branch said.

The school partnered on Longhorn City Limits with Austin-based C3 Presents, the Austin-based festival promoter owned by Live Nation that’s behind multiday outdoor events all over the world, including the annual Austin City Limits Music Festival, to which the name of the UT festival alludes.

The series kicked off Sept. 8 with Austin blues legend Jimmie Vaughan, brother of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan. Subsequent shows have featured Aloe Blacc, the Old 97s, Reckless Kelly and Hayes Carll, and Ghostland Observatory is set to play the final show of the season Nov. 17.

“With C3's world renown with putting on festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, it became a matter of 'Why would we look anywhere else?'” said Drew Martin, UT’s executive senior associate athletics director for external affairs. “Once we were able to reach
an agreement with them, it was full steam ahead and the partnership has been seamless, even on a condensed timeline.”

The budget for the six concerts has come from a mix of athletics department funds and use of the revenue generated for the university through its partnership with sports marketer IMG College, which handles the athletic department’s multimedia and sponsorship rights. Because the series was launched so quickly, it’s without a title sponsor this year, but Martin said there has been interest since the kickoff in new sponsorships for 2019 and beyond.

“In year one the goal was to build it and then going forward we sharpen the saw and figure out how we can listen even more to what fans want and enhance the game-day experience to make sure they feel valued,” he said. “Next year it opens up more inventory for our corporate partners to do things like brand stages or provide other activations, and a lot of the response has been so good that even midyear of the first year we've been able to sell things, with the
goal to integrate (sponsors) into the atmosphere.”

Branch said the city’s deep live music tradition and the presence of C3 Presents gave UT several unique advantages when it came to launching a successful concert series for fans.

“We're uniquely positioned at the University of Texas to be literally the best city to do this,” he said.

  • by Chad Swiatecki
  • Published: November 7, 2018