Homecoming weekend at my alma mater, Rutgers University, is this weekend. Yet for the first time since 2008 (my freshman year at the University), not only will I not be in attendance at the homecoming game, but I won’t be at a single football game all season.
During my tenure as an undergraduate, I was a member of the marching band for all four years. I went to every home football game and some away games as well, including bowl appearances 3 of the years. It was in my blood as a Rutgers student to be passionate about the team and show school spirit every weekend.
Now, I live 6 hours away. But the distance, the drive, and the cost of staying near the school are not even the factors that have prevented me from returning to Rutgers for the homecoming game this year.
This season, Rutgers joined the Big Ten conference. As a direct result, ticket prices to the games rose greatly. Not unexpected, as the teams Rutgers is playing are suddenly of a much higher caliber and draw many more loyal fans to their away games. Alumni members of the marching band (referred to as the “Alumni Band” when we get together for performances) have been a staple at Rutgers’ homecoming games for as long as anyone can remember. As performers, members of the Alumni band who march on the field at halftime (as opposed to just playing in the stands) have historically been rewarded with free admission to the game, with seats in the student section behind the undergrad band. This year, ticket prices are $85 for members of the Alumni Band, and no longer include lunch or parking, which have also been provided free of charge in the past.
All of a sudden, it’s massively cost-prohibitive to go to homecoming and perform with the Alumni Band- I’d be looking at spending at least $100 if not more for the day.
So after 6 years of going to Rutgers Homecoming, this year I’ll spend it in Pittsburgh, watching the game TV…but it’s just not the same.