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Kim Phillips: Dentoning the Mean Green Game Day way

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Kim Phillips

Dentoning, a word common in Denton culture, means participation in any facet of Denton life. One such facet that gets the university crowds and community Dentoning like no other is Mean Green football.

In 2014, the Denton Connvention & Visitors Bureau and Mean Green athletics teamed up with local businesses to create and promote a Denton-style game-day experience to engage students and alums while rallying locals to get behind Denton's home team. We call the massive marketing campaign, now in its fourth season, Mean Green Game Day.

<p><strong style="font-size: 1em; background-color: transparent;">Fans head from downtown Denton to Apogee Stadium for a University of North Texas football game in 2015 aboard one of the Mean Green Game Day shuttles. The shuttles will begin running at 2:30 p.m. for the Sept. 23 game against the University of Alabama-Birmingham.</strong></p>Denton Convention &amp; Visitors Bureau

Fans head from downtown Denton to Apogee Stadium for a University of North Texas football game in 2015 aboard one of the Mean Green Game Day shuttles. The shuttles will begin running at 2:30 p.m. for the Sept. 23 game against the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

Denton Convention & Visitors Bureau

Here's how it works. Chartered buses, sponsored for the second year by major campaign underwriter Jagoe-Public Company, run a free and constant shuttle route between downtown, the Fry Street district and the pedestrian bridge near Apogee Stadium. The shuttles start running three hours before kickoff until an hour after the game ends. The route begins at City Hall East at 601 E. Hickory Street (across from the A-train station), with various hop-on/hop-off stops along Hickory, Oak and Fry streets.

First State Bank has joined Mean Green Game Day this year as a new major sponsor of the campaign's wayfinding banners and signs. Eight-foot tall banners mark the shuttle pick-up/drop-off locations, and wayfinding signs lead visitors to sponsoring businesses.

Mean Green Game Day has been a cooperative project since the beginning. This season, 16 businesses join Jagoe-Public and First State Bank to financially fuel the campaign, which include Agua Dulce Mexican Kitchen, Beth Marie's Old-Fashioned Ice Cream, Cartwright's Ranch House, Chestnut Tree Bistro, Cool Beans, Discover Denton Welcome Center, Lucky Lou's, Riprocks, East Side Denton, Hoochies Oyster House, Hypnotic Donuts & Biscuits, LSA Burger Co., Mellow Mushroom, Oak St. Drafthouse, Rooster's Roadhouse and the Bearded Monk.

These Denton businesses believe and invest in the Mean Green Game Day #Dentoning vision, one much grander than a mere home-game-to-home-game hope for more customers.

Game day is an event in other college towns. My family experienced it at Texas A&M, our son's alma mater, where game days are weekend-long events packing hotels, restaurants and businesses with fans and pumping millions of dollars into the Bryan-College Station economy, even during bleak, losing seasons.

Granted, the A&M culture is different than that at UNT and in Denton. Denton culture has long been centered on the arts, a point of great pride and community identity. The Mean Green Game Day campaign goal is not to replace our creative culture; rather, it is about broadening it. Everyone involved in the campaign seeks to support and promote all the elements that make Denton great. Collegiate sports are one of those.

Athletics are vital to national perception of great universities and great college towns. And there are many rabid Mean Green fans among us. The Mean Green Game Day vision is to be a bridge that links students to a complete #Dentoning college-town experience, alums to an alma mater they can be proud of and locals to hometown team loyalty — football fans or not.

In the big picture, Mean Green Game Day is about developing Denton ambassadors. Naturally, we aim to attract more fans to games while increasing game-day economic impact in local businesses. But we are also focused on developing ambassadors: students armed with terrific lifetime #Dentoning stories and alums stoked about Denton's amazing evolution since their own college days.

Here's a real-life example. My brother and I are both UNT alums. I'm here all the time, but my brother lives in Rockwall. In Apogee Stadium's first season in 2011, I invited him to a game. Little did I know that was his first visit to Denton since he graduated in 1985. He's been back several times since then, even bringing his kids to tour his alma mater, something that hadn't occurred to him before his game-day experience when he found a far different Denton than was here 30 years ago.

My brother's is the kind of story Mean Green Game Day is changing. We are confident that reintroducing Denton to thousands of alums will eventually ignite a storm of social sharing and word-of-mouth testimony encouraging a reconnect between UNT alumni and their alma mater.

Mean Green Game Day is a long-term commitment with multiple outcome goals. Slowly but surely, we are beginning to meet those goals and build fervor that turns Denton green on game days.

The 2017 season opened Sept. 2 with a Mean Green win over Lamar University. On Saturday, Sept. 23, the Mean Green will take on the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) at Apogee Stadium. Shuttles will begin running at 2:30 p.m. and kickoff is at 5:30 p.m.

Game Day #Dentoning is for everyone. Check out meangreengameday.com for details and join the fun. Go Mean Green!

KIM PHILLIPS is vice president of the Denton Convention & Visitors Bureau at the Denton Chamber of Commerce. She loves promoting Denton's original, independent spirit through the city's sense of place and cast of many characters. She can be reached at kim@discoverdenton.com.