UT Austin’s Infamous Stadium Stampede

For those in attendance at the University of Texas at Austin versus Louisiana State University football game on Saturday, September 7th, crowd enthusiasm took a frightening and slightly dangerous turn. Boasting the second highest average ticket price among college football games this year (behind the Georgia versus Notre Dame matchup), the UT versus LSU showdown riled students’ enthusiasm and caused many to flock to Darrell K. Royal Stadium.

Starting early in the morning, UT Austin students began to form a line outline the stadium, patiently waiting for the start of that evening’s game. By mid-afternoon, it had become abundantly clear that crowding-related problems would likely arise. Because seating was offered on a first come, first served basis, there were more ticket holders waiting outside the gates than could fit in the stadium, and a widespread wild determination to get in at all costs. Students were packed tightly around the stadium, many going without water or bathroom breaks for fear of losing their place in line, for at least three and a half hours before the game’s start time.

However, while the crowd in itself was massive and (at times) rowdy leading up to the stadium gates opening, nothing drastic took place until the gates were opened at 4:30pm. As soon as the gates swung open, thousands of UT Austin students stormed the stadium, shoving one another forward toward the student section’s bleachers. As an attendee of the game myself, I can honestly say that being in the swarm of students vying for a place in the stadium was absolutely overwhelming. No one had any control over their own movements, because there were other students packed tightly against them from all sides, and hundreds of other students pushing the pack forward. At one point, a girl in front of me dropped her ID, bent down for a brief moment to retrieve it from the floor, and was almost trampled by the unyielding crowd of fans.

The general crowding was also partnered with an apparent lack fo security personnel at the stadium’s gates. There were no bag checks performed on the students entering the stadium, and tickets were not scanned at the door. Therefore, the stadium could have, under more dismal circumstances, been an arena for acts of violence.

Following the stampede of students and the lack of security precautions present at the UT versus LSU game, students are demanding that UT Austin take action to prevent future dangerous environments within the stadium. Some discussions have taken place to ponder a more effective means of crowd control, but the university has not yet definitively decided on how they will make the stadium a safer place for UT Austin students in the coming months of football season.