EUGENE, Ore. -- Duck fans worldwide are rejoicing as the 2012 University of Oregon football season has it's official start Saturday night against Arkansas State. Some changes are coming to Autzen Stadium with the new season, which are aimed at making a better experience for the fans.
There have been multiple construction efforts at the Autzen Stadium Complex over the past months. Crews have build a new soccer and lacrosse field on the grounds and installed a new stairwell into the stadium.
Designers said that the new stairway will help duck fans get to their seats easier, as well as alleviate some of the congestion in the track. One football fanatic who saw the change said she is excited to see the addition.
"Before it was kind of like a tunnel going up a very narrow staircase." said Tuli Olsen, a lifelong duck fan.
Olsen has gone to Ducks football games since 1973. In that time she has seen the controversies that often come with new seasons. Olsen referenced last year's ban on the "duck lips" noise makers that were banned from game days.
Another controversy arose when duck players were challenged for sporting an "O" hand sign after big plays were made. The end zone antics were a topic of debate going into bowl games, where referees were extra attentive to players throwing up the "O".
Another hot topic that has come to the stadium is the UO's decision to go smoke free. Officials are including Autzen in the campus wide ban on smoking, both inside and outside the stadium.
Coupled with the airborne cleanup effort is a policy to combat litter in the parking lot. Stadium officials will start handing out recycling bags at tailgating spots for pre-game revelers to properly dispose of beverage containers. Craig Pintens with the UO Athletic Department said that tailgaters can leave the filled bags by their vehicles and a cleanup crew will collect them.
Pintens also said that there are still over 2,000 tickets available for Saturday night's game for fans to see all of the changes both on the field ... and off.
"We're hopeful that our fans will rally and gobble them up." said Pintens.