My producer, Ashley Colley, and I turned onto a freshly paved road to drive into a newly built parking structure for a brand new media parking arrangement. We drove to the hardly used upper level of the garage, rode down a glossy glass elevator to be picked up by a new media shuttle bus with double doors and lots of seating. This was a big difference from last year. Media used to park in the gravel parking lot next to the Reactor Field on the west side of Memorial Stadium. In the years before the 2009 football season, that particular lot was the designated lot for college kids to get inebriated before Mizzou football games. The lot was shut down because of a number of fights and underaged drinking citations. Post reactor-shutdown, media would take a cramped shuttle bus to the stadium.Last season I sat on ABC 17’s Martina Del Bonta’s lap on the way to the stadium – and vice versa- to avoid waiting another 15 minutes for the next shuttle. Flash forward to an hour before the kick-off of the 2012 football season and Colley and I sat in an almost empty shuttle bus, riding westbound toward the stadium.
Everything looks familiar when we get to the stadium and the new-era-for-Missouri-media starts to fade. We weave through a mob of black and gold as our last obstacle before getting our bags checked and getting on the elevator. We ride the same middle elevator, stop at all the familiar floors- the kitchen, the club level- before we finally reach ours. Just as I think all is normal again, the elevator doors open and we step inside the press box, only to be greeted by a buffet spread and a sign that read, “Dig In.” In absolute shock, my eyes gaze at the big salad bowl, the plates full of potato salad, pulled pork and bread. A pre-game meal?! WHAT? Last year, as a broke college senior, I’d load up on soda and occasionally bring a snack. This year, as a broke graduate, snacks from home will not be needed.
I didn’t have enough time to eat the pre-game meal…pre-game..So during the 2nd quarter, as rain sprayed the brand new field turf on Faurot and soaked the completely redesigned Missouri uniforms, I hurried back to the press box for my first meal ever at Memorial Stadium. As I approached the buffet table, ready to “Dig In”, a frown smeared across the server’s face. The pre-game meal was all gone. The server saw my deflated look, the disappointment in my eyes and she consoled me by saying “We will be serving freshly baked cookies and brownies at half-time.” WHAT? Baked Goods?!?! At half-time?! It really is a new era. I spent all of half-time and the 3rd quarter noshing on brownies baked with fat chocolate chips inside, oatmeal cookies and whatever sweets I could get my hands on from the buffet table. Being part of the SEC sure is delicious…and probably fattening.
The game ended with a wet Missouri win over Southeastern Louisiana. Nothing too foreign there, Missouri’s won every season opener for the last 11 years. What will be different is next week, when Missouri starts conference play as a first year member of the SEC. Not only do I look forward to the eats and sweets but also watching Missouri play a brand new opponent. University of Georgia will get to experience a whole new town.