The university is hosting a watch party at Wildcat Stadium for the men’s basketball NCAA Tournament matchup against the Texas Longhorns Saturday night. The gates are expected to open at 7:30 p.m. for anyone wanting to attend, and tip-off is scheduled at 8:50 p.m. Games, prizes and food will be provided.
“There will be some social media giveaways for an iPad and AirPods,” said Toni Young, alumni and university events coordinator. “Athletics will be giving away t-shirts, and we have so many great sponsors that will be there.
There will be 4,000 free t-shirts available, and free Sharky’s and Domino’s pizza will be available for the first 500 attendees.
The watch party was hosted in Moody Coliseum in 2019 for the men’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament, but current renovations and COVID-19 protocols forced the event to be held at the stadium.
“Two years ago, we were in Moody [Coliseum]. We’re at Wildcat Stadium this year, so we have more room to spread out,” Young said. “We want to invite all students, faculty, staff and families and maybe have more than the 4,000 filling Moody last time.”
Masks are encouraged but will not be required at the stadium. During the 2019 football season, masks were required for all sporting events.
“Dr. Schubert put out in his email coming back from spring break that we encourage masks outdoors when physical distancing is not possible or if there’s possible congestion,” Young said. “We are very confident our students and staff can do that. We will not require them; They’re encouraged, and anyone who wants to wear a mask can.”
The watch party planning was orchestrated by athletics, SGA, Alumni Association and ACUTV.
“I’m very excited about the March Madness watch party,” said Daniel Sherman, SGA president and senior management major from Abilene. “I think it is going to be a great time where our student body will get to bond in a really large, but safe event. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing our team compete on a national level like this.”
While no capacity limit has been revealed, the university limited the capacity for athletic events to 50% in the fall.
“50% of our stadium would be about 6,000 people,” Young said. “We would be thrilled if we had that many. We are sending some information out to the Abilene community who want to come watch.”
Young said she’s excited for weekend and getting the chance to witness the community come together to celebrate athletics.
“I think it’s great to see ACU athletics succeed and see them on a big stage like this,” Young said. “It’s exciting for the ACU and Abilene community to rally around this fun event and be able to watch them.”