Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Cortaca Jug Game Goes To New York City (Area)

The annual Cortaca Jug game between Ithaca College and SUNY Cortland is arguably the biggest rivalry in Division III football. Sports Illustrated even called it the “Biggest Little Game in the Country.” However, unless you’re affiliated with one of these schools, are a die-hard Division III football fan, or live in Central New York, you’re likely not aware of this game. There are probably about 10,000 people who attend the annual game, but it certainly doesn’t have the attendance draw of Ohio State-Michigan. (Of course, stadium capacity is significantly less at Butterfield Stadium and Cortland's Stadium Complex compared to The Shoe and The Big House.) So when it was announced that the 2019 Cortaca Jug game would be played at MetLife Stadium, home to the New York Jets and Giants, my initial reaction was “Holy Crap!” It sounded (and still sounds) like a cool idea. My next reaction though was, “How is this going to work?”

Ithaca and Cortland are both over 200 miles from East Rutherford, New Jersey. That’s not very convenient for students, faculty, and staff that live in those areas. While I've heard estimates that 30,000 Cortland and Ithaca alumni live in the New York City area, I’d be interested in seeing how the area is defined.* How far into Connecticut and New Jersey does this include? Regardless, this still seems ambitious that a majority of grads will attend the game.

Despite all this, I’m definitely interested in going. It’s about a 4-hour drive from Northern Virginia to the stadium. Well, 4 hours without traffic or stopping, which probably means 5 hours unless the Delaware Memorial Bridge is closed when it could take even longer.

Anyway, while I’ve started considering if I can go and what friends may be able to join me, Ithaca, Cortland, Ticketmaster, or whoever else may be forcing my hand. Despite the game being about 50 weeks away (Nov. 16, 2019), tickets go on sale this Saturday, December 1st. This seems insane to me! I don’t know what I’m having for dinner tomorrow (I would normally say tonight, but there’s dinner at a local restaurant where a portion of the sales go to the elementary school PTA, so I know what I’m ordering) or when I’m going to take my car for an oil change, but I need to commit to an event nearly a year away?

My theory is that MetLife wants to make sure that enough tickets are sold to make it worth it. 10,000 people in an NFL stadium isn’t going to work for them. According to this article in The Ithacan, Ithaca College's Susan Bassett, associate vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports, said "there has to be a minimum of approximately 20,000 tickets sold for the game at MetLife Stadium to be a success." If you're going to play at an NFL stadium with a capacity of 82,500, you better have way more than 20,000 tickets sold!

Back to the ticket sales, it seems that sports and especially concert tickets go on sale earlier and earlier now, and I’m not sure why. I mean, I’m sure it’s because of money, but what’s the difference between selling tickets 3 months before an event rather than 11 months?

To conclude, Go Bombers!

* According to The Ithacan article linked above, there are 27,221 Ithaca College alumni within a four-hour radius of the city. I guess they have some pretty good data.

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