In their 91st year, Gator Growl proved to be a lasting tradition for the Gator Nation. With performances from Ludacris and Foster the People, a sold-out audience and two honored- guest tents, the audience on Flavet Field was ready to witness a night in University of Florida history.
The shift of venue enabled the show’s producers to feature a beer and wine garden, a variety of food trucks and multiple stages. However, after 82 years of hosting Gator Growl in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, the change brought both advantages and challenges for the technology team.
“Flavet Field had enough open space that we were able to give people more seating options than years past,” said Associate Producer of Show, Meredith Allen. The size of the field gave way for a number of new opportunities for the guests, such as multiple seating options. Although, with the new seating choices came a variety of challenges for the technology team, including sound issues, visibility barriers and proper lighting, according to Allen.
“We were most concerned with bleacher seating since they were higher priced tickets,” said Rachel Roth, Gator Growl and Homecoming’s director of technology. The honored guest area was equipped with monitors so the audience could see the stage without obstructions. In addition to the monitors, this year, Gator Growl featured two LED screens to highlight the performers.
“I think most people would be surprised to know that we started working on Tuesday, it’s not just a one-day production,” Roth said.
The transformation of Flavet Field began on Oct. 14th and was completed the morning of the show, Oct. 17th.
Roth, who has been working with Gator Growl for four years, said the new location definitely brought on new challenges, but ultimately proved to be a fantastic venue. “It was an entirely different production compared to the stadium,” Roth said. “There is no comparison.”
In addition to the technical production aspect, social media played a huge role in this year’s Gator Growl. Haley Doyle, associate producer of communications, led the nine- month social media campaign prior to the event.
“We sold out at 17,000 tickets, which is 2,000 more than last year,” Doyle said. “This year we really wanted to expand our social media so everyone could know about the big changes as soon as they were happening.”
The UF Gator Growl and Homecoming twitter account boasts more than 3,400 followers. Even Ludacris, one of the show’s headline performers, tweeted a picture from the event. “We knew that the move to Flavet would spark many questions from students and we wanted to be prepared,” Doyle said.
Doyle, a third- year marketing major, said she used every social media platform to share information about the changes being made to the show.
Even with the obstacles of a new venue, Gator Growl proved to be an enduring tradition for UF students and alumni. Doyle, along with the rest of the show’s team, was very satisfied with the results of the production and said that the move to Flavet Field was the extra push the show needed.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way the show turned out,” Doyle said. “We took a lot of risks moving to Flavet Field this year, and it really paid off.”