Grass, the hill and Homecoming

The hill ought to be open for the Homecoming game on Saturday. Guelph students and fans have been sitting on the hill since the 1950’s. It is as much a Guelph tradition as ringing cowbells and it’s a part of the Homecoming experience. It seems a terrible waste to deny many current students that opportunity while throwing away tens of thousands of dollars in revenue.

Alumni Stadium circa 1988
Photo: David Akins

I know there are issues with “the ongoing construction” but I think they are all resolveable. I’ve actually heard three different reasons advanced to justify the closing of the hill: 1) the sod needs time to take; 2) the surface of the track needs to be protected until it is completed; & 3) issues of liability.

I don’t believe that concern for the sod is any longer an issue. Everyone with a lawn knows that the weather has been and continues to be perfect for growing grass. The sod began taking root 2 weeks ago and isn’t in danger of failing. The grass has already been cut with a tractor, something that wouldn’t have been done if the sod were unstable.

I am in the construction management business and have worked on a project before that included an international calibre track & a turf field. I know the care they take to keep the track clean & safe during the process of laying down the surface. But just do as they did this past Saturday and keep people off the track. This does require temporary fencing and security but those are things that have to be provided at every Homecoming game. There is no reason for people to have to cross from one side of the field to the other if you plan this properly.

On the hill side of the field there are two gates. If you sold 4,000 “grass passes” all of those ticket holders would enter from the east gate atop the hill. The second and smaller gate is in the southeast corner and would only need to be used as an exit.

Late 50’s football game at the new field
Photo: Coach Mooney’s scrapbook

If fans on the hill won’t be permitted to cross over to the stadium side then washroom facilities and food concessions need to be provided. That wouldn’t be a problem as the University always has to bring in extra “port-a-potties” for the Homecoming game anyways. It would probably easier to set them up in the east-side parking lot than the usual location. Since almost all of Guelph’s concessions are mobile anyways it should not be too difficult to relocate some of them. If it is, I’m sure a couple of “hotdog cart” vendors could be easily found. Once again temporary fencing which can be rented with only 24 hrs notice, could be set up in the north end of the east-side parking lot, surrounding the east gate, so that fans could access these amenities.

Would this crowd out the Friends of Gryphon Football and Parents-of-Players tailgate parties? Maybe a little. Some participants may have to park across the street but I don’t think you will hear them complaining as many of them can’t get enough tickets for their families and friends as the situation stands now. And no one is going to be more supportive of the administration taking these steps than FoGF and P-o-P.

Last year I commended the organizers for how well the day went in spite of a record crowd of 10,000 saying,

 Whoever oversees the organization of the day deserves some credit for it coming off so smoothly.  Perfect weather helped.  The students were well behaved as far as I saw and put on an impressive show of school colours and spirit.  And what’s up with UofG president Alistair Summerlee?  Can’t he afford a pair of shoes? lol

This game will be on national television. Is there any event at the University that will bring more positive publicity to the school than this? Television broadcasters love the Alumni Stadium Homecoming environment. It creates a positive impression of the the Univ of Guelph which attracts students and recruits. What will look better on the TV screen,  a nice green hill or one with thousands of students on it dressed in red, gold and black. It’s not that there won’t be other positives to focus on – new turf, new video scoreboard, exciting team – but why limit yourself. Put on the best display possible for a national television audience and that means opening the hill.

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One Response to Grass, the hill and Homecoming

  1. Dog Whisperer says:

    Great Article Peter. Unfortunately sometimes (code for normally) Universities are less concerned for their teams or customers than they are for PROCESS. As I like to say the University mantra is “Process over Progress” …I bet that would sound pretty good in Latin! Keep up the good work and I hope they do the right things for Homecoming the students and Gryphon fans.

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