COLLEGE STATION, Texas — It turns out that the only thing harder to catch on Kyle Field than Christian Kirk is Hitmonlee – and more than 1,600 people showed up on Wednesday to try.
Texas A&M football’s home field became one of the latest places to get swept up in the Pokemon Go craze, as a whopping 1,604 smartphone-wielding fans used the increasingly popular app to hunt Pokemon for two hours on the same grounds where Myles Garrett hunts quarterbacks.
In a less-than-24-hour turnaround, the school decided on Tuesday evening to open up the SEC’s largest stadium to the public, posting notices on Twitter and other social media promoting the event, and people of all ages flocked to the facility for a chance to not only catch Pokemon but to experience walking inside Kyle Field, which was completely redeveloped prior to the 2015 season and seats 102,733.
“I wanted to stand inside Kyle Field,” said John Edwards, a junior at Texas A&M. “Last season I sat above the tunnel for the Alabama game, but standing out here on the field, it’s a completely different perspective.”
Pokemon Go, for those unfamiliar, is a location-based smartphone game. Released earlier this month, it has achieved rapid popularity worldwide as users roam real-world locations in a virtual treasure hunt to capture different types of Pokemon, with the goal of collecting all of the different kinds.
Lindsay Brown, a student who will graduate Texas A&M in 2018, regularly attends home games and heard about the Pokemon Go event on Instagram. Both the chance to catch Pokemon and the ability to walk the Kyle Field grounds attracted her on Wednesday.
“I’ve been taking pictures of everything,” she said. “It’s great.”
Even some Texas A&M football players traded in footballs for Pokeballs on Wednesday. Reserve quarterback Conner McQueen took a video of the people roaming on the field, and redshirt freshman receiver Kemah Siverand was one of those scouring the turf for Pokemon.
“They posted it on Twitter, so I decided to come out,” Siverand said.
When Hitmonlee – a rare Pokemon – spawned around 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, several people were seen sprinting across Kyle Field with Johnny Manziel-esque speed to the visitors’ sideline to catch it. Dozens stayed in that area until the end of the event.
“Frankly I’m shocked [by the response],” senior associate athletic director for external affairs Jason Cook said. “We posted it on social media overnight, it’s in the middle of summer in Aggieland, not a lot of students here, not a lot going on. I was thinking, 'Well, maybe we’ll get a couple hundred.' We’re well over 1,000. It just shows you what kind of cultural phenomenon this has become in a couple days and also how special Kyle Field is, too.”