A recent article from Paul Kuharsky and subsequent conversation on 104.5 The Zone’s Midday 180 about the Titans finding their version of the Predators “Smashville” or the Raptors “We The North” branding have recently sparked some discussion among the fan base regarding the Titans approach to the fan experience.
This is a topic that has been near and dear to my heart for many years now. For the past two offseasons, I’ve written a post here on MCM about the topic. You can check those out here and here. We also recorded a podcast episode last offseason where we discussed the topic and a lot of these ideas which you can check out here (we edited the episode down to just this discussion for your convenience).
Kuharsky’s article specifically raises the issue in concert with the arrival of Gil Beverly, the Titans recently hired VP of Brand, Marketing, and Communications. Beverly is ultimately responsible for molding the experience of being a Titans fan from what is pretty universally acknowledged as bland and generic to something that creates a sense of community and identity among the fan base.
Before we go on — and before you jump in the comments to say this — I want to acknowledge that, yes, winning football games will help fans enjoy the gameday experience more than anything. That’s true, but it also doesn’t mean that the team should punt on the rest of this stuff. The empty seats in the upper bowl and droves of opposing team fans that are visible for nearly every home game despite the Titans winning 17 of their last 22 games at Nissan Stadium are clear evidence of that.
There are a few different aspects to fan experience, but let’s start with the one that sparked this recent debate.
Based on the discussion among the fan base over the past few days it seems that Titans fans are relatively split over the merits of “Titan Up”. While I don’t think it’s a particularly inspired slogan or phrase, I don’t really think there is anything wrong with it either. It’s simple, easy, and it’s caught on to the point that people will say it to each other when they see other fans around town wearing Titans gear.
Some of the suggestions to replace it include “Light It Up”, a slogan proposed by Chatt Tenn Sports’ Tres Winn. I like the idea of steering into the imagery of fire considering the primary logo is a fireball and the team continuing to gravitate towards fire themes with products like Igniting the Fire, the team’s offseason video production that was started last year (the latest of which you can watch below). There is a lot that you can do with fire and it’s unique among NFL teams.
Another suggestion that I liked quite a bit came from my podcast co-host, Michael Gilliam, who raised the idea of “Give Nothing, Take Everything”, a nod to this quote from the movie 300.
This movie is already a part of the Titans lexicon with the “A’oo, A’oo, A’oo!” chants following every Tennessee first down. That change, which started in 2017, has been a big improvement over the painfully generic “move those chains, move those chains” chants of years past.
“Give Nothing, Take Everything” builds on that theme and inspires an aggressive mindset surrounding the team. I could see t-shirts and flags that say “Give Nothing” on one side and “Take Everything” on the other. You could also shorten it to just “Give Nothing” if the full slogan is too long.
What the Titans don’t need to do is rip off Smashville directly. Using the city as a rally cry was a genius move by the Predators, but “borrowing” Smashville or using a Smashville equivalent like “Bashville” or “Clashville” or “Mashville” will come across as lazy and derivative. They also don’t need to reach for any knockoffs of other successful branding exercises in other sports. Branding phrases like “We The North” or “Grit and Grind” are good because they’re original and they belong to that fan base. Ripping them off would only further feed into the feeling that the Titans are a generic franchise.
I don’t have the final answer here, but I do believe “Light It Up” and “Give Nothing” could be good alternatives to “Titan Up”. After all, “Titan Up” doesn’t really mean anything. To be fair, neither do many slogans from around the NFL, but I think we could do better, especially if we paired one of those slogans with further modifications to the gameday experience.
Nissan Stadium and surrounding areas
For a 20 year old stadium, Nissan Stadium isn’t in bad shape overall. While some are already beginning to pine for a new, domed stadium to make a run at the Super Bowl, Final Four, and other major sporting events that kind of venue could bring, I don’t think we see a new stadium in the immediate future. That might be a discussion better served for the end of the next decade.
In the meantime, I believe you could easily extend the life of Nissan Stadium by continuing to make upgrades. Currently, the Titans are in the process of tripling their WiFi broadband which is a great step in the right direction, but they certainly need to go further (though I recognize some of these would be longer projects that likely won’t be able to happen before the Colts and Titans kickoff on September 15th.
One thing that I would like to see is soccer-style shades added to the stadium that sheltered most of the seats from both the sun and rain similar to what the Dolphins recently did with Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
That would be an expensive modification, but it would increase the comfort level of fans year round.
There are some other things that the team could do that would be less expensive and quicker that would make a big difference as well. For one, bring back the name Coliseum. Changing from Nissan Stadium to Nissan Coliseum would be met with near universal approval from the fan base. It’s a minor detail, but it would be a wildly popular move. And yes, we know that “coliseum” is a Roman term and the Titans are parts of Greek mythology, but we don’t care. It’s more unique and evokes memories of the best Titans teams of all time.
Another change that would be met with rave reviews would be getting rid of the “LP Building Zones” in the North and South concourses, better known as the “dollhouses”. These are leftover relics from the time when the stadium was known as LP Field. Unlike the “Coliseum” term, there aren’t many happy memories of LP Field and no one would miss these eyesore dollhouses if they were removed from the stadium. In fact, our podcast has a standing offer to personally assist in the demolition of the dollhouses.
Replacing the dollhouses gives the team a blank slate to build in more Greek imagery or add elements that reflect its home city and state. My idea is to replace the dollhouses with a “Ring of Fire” made up of Greek style columns with bowls of fire at the top — think of the Olympic flame — circling the concourse. I put together a mock up of what this could look like.
This would give the stadium a unique look that would make it instantly recognizable when shown on TV. It also adds to the Greek imagery and the name even ties in a nod to Nashville music legend Johnny Cash. When the Titans score or make a big play on defense, the flames could shoot higher. You could even make the flames shoot up in unison with the “A’oo, A’oo, A’oo!” chant after first downs. It would also tie in beautifully with the “Light It Up” branding if the team wanted to embrace that idea.
Replacing the concessions that are currently located in the dollhouses could be a rotating cast of local Nashville food trucks. This is a city that is known for great food and this would bring another uniquely Nashville element to the gameday experience.
In the concourses, I think the team could dress up the current look with more Greek imagery on the walls and around the concession openings. Think of a less glitzy version of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
Outside the stadium, I would love to see the Titans add some Greek style statues of team legends. Start with Steve McNair and Eddie George and add more as you add names to the Ring of Honor. Speaking of the Ring of Honor, Amy Adams-Strunk has already alluded to an aesthetic update for this element coming soon which is much needed. The current banners hung from the top fencing around the stadium are cheap looking.
The Titans have hinted at an updated music selection for the upcoming which would be a massive relief. There is a fine line between traditional and stale, and unfortunately, much of the Titans in-game music falls in the latter category. From the “Easy Like Sunday Morning” song playing before games to “That Don’t Impress Me Much” after opposing touchdowns, this has been a playlist that is more likely to induce a mid-afternoon nap than it is to get fans fired up and engaged in the game.
Modernizing the music and focusing on upbeat songs that excite the crowd would go a long way towards creating a more rowdy atmosphere for home games. If the Titans want to find a contemporary example to follow, they should look at my alma mater, the University of Texas, who recently revamped their entire gameday experience under new Athletic Director Chris Del Conte as this Sports Illustrated article detailed.
Texas has also tried to change the experience once the game begins. No longer will the Longhorns score a touchdown, fire their cannon and then pause to honor a big donor on the field. “The place wants to go nuts. But we say, ‘Hang on. Be quiet for a second while we present a game ball to the president of a company.’ It just sucks the air out of the stadium,” Martin says. “We need to keep the hype going.” Martin also has asked PA announcer Bob Cole to change his approach as well. “Talk like a fan would talk,” Martin says. “We need less news anchor and more buddy sitting in the seat next to you.”
Soundtrack matters, too. Martin wants something he compares to “the best wedding reception you’ve ever been to.” “The DJ is playing the current music that the young couple and the bridesmaids and groomsmen know,” Martin says, “but he also plays ‘Twist and Shout’.” Martin says the best gameday environments strike a balance between the current hip-hop hits the students and players want and the power ballads the donors want. He made sure the person who controls the music during the game sits outside. That way, it’s easier to discern when to play a singalong like Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” or something new by Kendrick Lamar. Or, when it’s the start of the fourth quarter and your team is up eight but needs a stop, perhaps it’s time to play something by DMX from the Golden Age of Bangers that is guaranteed to get every booty shaking.
“Let them keep partying all the way until the next snap,” Martin says.
Instead of asking fans to suffer through watching someone try to guess the temperature, play some DMX and let the crowd go wild during the commercial breaks.
Gamedays in Austin ain’t what they used to be. Kudos to @_delconte and @TexasFootball. Energized experience for everyone, and I can see it inspires the troops! Can’t wait till Baylor. #HookEm pic.twitter.com/uw3CKjcsRM— Chip Rives (@chiprives) September 23, 2018
Furthermore, the Titans should take more advantage of the fact that they are located in... ya know... MUSIC City. They should be able to find eight high level music acts throughout the course of the regular season that would be willing to come play a set during halftime. Phil Vassar is fine and all, but he’s not exactly current and he certainly isn’t someone that is going to grab the attention of the casual fan. Book some names that would make some of the thousands of bachelorette parties in town consider going to check out a game with a free mini-concert attached.
The Titans tried to get a weird “Titan Up” call and response chant going last season, but it never really clicked with the fan base, in part, because it was really hard to tell how the cadence of the chant was supposed to go. Rather than try again with that next year, the team should embrace a chant that has already been made famous by Remember the Titans.
The entire stadium singing “we are the Titans, the mighty mighty Titans” would sound great and it would double as a song that could be sung by fans who get together for road trips to other stadiums. Kevin Byard and the Titans defense gave a nod to this song when they did the dance from the movie after a turnover on downs last year.
The team also helped boost the efforts of a fan organized version of the dance across the pedestrian bridge towards the end of last season.
The team would be smart to build on this heading into the 2019 season.
Food and Logistics
The Titans concession options are pretty bland currently, especially for a city that boasts a thriving food scene. As I mentioned above, getting food trucks in the North and South concourses would be a big help. Each level should also have access to good barbecue and hot chicken, the two biggest dishes that Nashville is known for. While Logan’s is local, nobody is coming to a game to get their hands on some Logan’s. The team made strides in the food arena last year, but need to continue to go further.
Of course, I’d also love to see the Titans follow the lead of the Falcons and other teams around the league who have found ways to slash concession prices to reasonable values and still make good money. Not having to pay $8 for a beer or $4 for a hot dog would go a long way towards encouraging fans to come out and enjoy a game on Sunday instead of sitting at home and watching on TV.
The team has already said that they are working on increasing the number of access points and finding ways to encourage fans to get in the stadium earlier to ease the long lines getting in before kickoff. That’s great news and perhaps using the halftime musical act mentioned above to play a few songs before the game as well could be used as a draw to get people in early.
So what can we, as Titans fans, do to get some of these ideas enacted? Well, organizing via Twitter, MCM, Reddit, and other popular Titans outlets is a great first step. Getting good ideas circulated and promoted are great uses for those platforms. I would love to see a day when the team would consider a “fan council” of sorts that they could consult for ideas like this. Obviously, everything that fans dream up can’t be enacted, but have the fan base vote on a handful of representatives to make sure their voice is heard by the organization.
If you have some other good ideas not listed here, feel free to post them in the comments or reach out via Twitter (I’m @MikeMiracles and the site account is @TitansMCM). The best fan traditions are fan generated and organization supported. If we want the experience of being a Titans fan and attending a Titans game to be more unique and fun, it’s up to us to help them figure out how to do that.