The Rutgers University football and wrestling programs are solidifying their spots in the Big Ten Conference by kicking off the 2017 season competing at Yankee Stadium.
This doubleheader of a wrestling match, followed by a football game against the University of Maryland that will take place on Saturday, Nov. 4, costs Rutgers approximately $750,000 to rent the venue, said Pat Hobbs, Director of Athletics, in an email.
Hobbs said that the agreement for the matchup to be played at Yankee Stadium was previously negotiated by the University’s former athletic administration, and so the current administration had decided to honor the agreement.
Originally the match-up deemed “Battle in the Bronx," was only to feature a football game, as the Scarlet Knights have played there three times since 2011. But Hobbs decided to take this historic event one step further for Rutgers this year by including a Big Ten Wrestling competition, the first doubleheader of its kind to be held at Yankee Stadium, Hobbs said.
Currently, for Rutgers students, 2017 season ticket packages will include six games to be played at High Point Solution Stadium, plus the Yankee Stadium game.
“As the only FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) football program in the New York metropolitan area, and New York's Big Ten team, this gives us an opportunity to partner with the Yankees, the greatest franchise in sports. The Yankees will promote this event throughout the summer and into the fall. That's great for all of us at Rutgers,” Hobbs said.
There has been much controversy over the decision to play at Yankee Stadium, with some season tickets holders preferring the game not be played in the Bronx, or including the game as part of the season ticket package, Hobbs said.
“What I tell everyone is that we need you there. We need your unwavering support for Rutgers Football and our season ticket holders are our greatest supporters. Our most vocal support has come from folks who are both football and wrestling season ticket holders,” Hobbs said. “Last year's NCAA Wrestling Tournament at MSG (Madison Square Garden) showed that there are thousands of wrestling fans in NYC. So we'll get to show off one of the best programs in the country and a fast improving football team.”
The money for this event will come primarily from ticket and sponsorship revenues. Rutgers will be working closely with IMG to bring support to the event, Hobbs said.
As for the football program, head coach Chris Ash and the Rutgers University football team are anxiously awaiting the historic event, as well as head wrestling coach Scott Goodale and the Rutgers wrestling team, Hobbs said.
“We are absolutely honored to wrestle inside one of the greatest cathedrals in all of (the) sport. I don't think we ever envisioned this when we started here 10 years ago. This is significant not only for the Rutgers and Maryland programs but for the sport of wrestling. We sincerely thank Pat Hobbs, the University of Maryland and the New York Yankees for making this wrestling milestone a reality," Goodale said in an interview with NJ.com.
It seems the biggest problem for students would be transportation to this “Battle of the Bronx," said Daniel Harding, a Rutgers School of Engineering first-year student.
“It’s really exciting to watch a game at Yankee Stadium, I would definitely want to attend, although I don’t really know how I would get there. If they could provide fan buses for the students back and forth to the stadium that would be awesome,” Harding said.
Currently, Ash and Hobbs are working together to try and ease the issue of student’s travel to the stadium, as they want this event to be as inclusive as possible, Hobbs said.
“Our students have been incredible in their support. It's easy to support a team on top but I've been incredibly impressed by the support of the Rutgers students as we rebuild. I want to take this opportunity to thank them again. Coach Ash and I couldn't be more appreciative,” Hobbs said. “Many of them (students) have never been to a wrestling match. They're in for quite a treat and I wouldn't be surprised if they start turning up at the RAC (Rutgers Athletic Center) in greater and greater numbers to see our Top 20 program.”
Marissa Scognamiglio is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.