Last year, when the new Kyle Field plans were released, there was a minor bullet point about twelve empty seats going into the stands. On its face, the memorial seemed like a touching tribute, but it was not clear what exactly the twelve seats would be memorializing.
An article in The Bryan-College Station Eagle on 5/1/2013 stated that these twelve empty seats will memorialize the 12 students who died in the 1999 Bonfire Collapse and all Aggies who have died in war. In a newsletter from Chancellor of Texas A&M John Sharp's office that same month, Sharp wrote that the twelve seats will memorialize fallen Aggies. According to Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express, in a construction update this month, Sharp said the memorial would represent the 1999 Bonfire victims. Two days ago, in the wake of TCU Assistant AD for compliance Greg Featherston's resignation after posting some ill-advised words on the subject, Chancellor John Sharp issued an updated definition for the memorial:
HONORING THE TRADITION OF THE 12TH MAN
"The planned 12th Man seats which will be left open in the second deck of the east stands of redeveloped Kyle Field are a living and visible tribute to the spirit of all members of the 12th Man who have come before at Texas A&M. It is a symbol of the respect all students and former students have for the hard work and sacrifice that went in to making this land grant University what it is today - one of the best in the country. Kyle Field is a very special place for all Aggies and we believe this section is a very special tribute to one of our most honored traditions, the 12th Man. While some have reported this is solely related to the bonfire tragedy, that is inaccurate."
John Sharp, Chancellor, The Texas A&M University System
Dr. Mark Hussey, Interim President, Texas A&M University
Here are the facts as we now know them regarding the "Twelve Empty Seats" of New Kyle Field:
- The empty seats are meant to pay homage to all previous members of the Texas A&M 12th Man.
- The seats will be located on the East Side (Student Section) at the 50 yard line.
- There will be a barricade surrounding the empty seats.
...This is to honor and remember all Aggies who have passed! When each game is televised I guarantee they will feature [these] seats. It will further solidify our ownership of the 12th man [and] it would be a big mistake not to do this. [Thanks] for your email though. I appreciate it.