Thousands of Boston College football fans gearing up to fry up burgers on Saturday afternoons at Shea Field may have to break their long standing traditions.
According to an email sent out by BC Athletics to Flynn Fund donors and season ticket holders this Saturday, procedures for pre-game activities on Shea Field during the football season will see significant changes. As has happened in previous seasons, fans will require a pass to enter Shea Field with a vehicle prior to football games to set up their tailgates. It is anticipated by BC Athletics that season ticket holders will need to donate at least $5,000 to the Flynn Fund for the opportunity to receive these passes. This is up from a donation of $3,500 to access Shea Field, the amount needed as recently as three seasons ago.
Unlike previous years, spots on the field will no longer be determined on a first-come, first-serve basis. Pass holders will now receive an assigned and numbered parking spot on the field. Selection for the position of these spots will be determined by a descending order of contribution.
The email states that it is BC Athletics’ belief that this “relieves the burden of meeting up with friends outside of campus to park near each other.” Steve Novak, associate athletics director of athletic development, said that donors can now reserve spots on the field next to families or friends with which they wish to tailgate. BC Athletics used several focus groups comprised of BC Gold Alumni in creating the new Shea Field regulations—according to Novak, this idea was the most appealing.
Shea Field pass holders may now distribute as many as 20 tickets to guests so that they can access the area prior to games. This amount is up from a system of 10 available wristbands per car implemented in 2014. Last season, non-wristband holders could also go onto Shea Field prior to games if it was under capacity. In 2015, walk-ons without a ticket will not gain access to the field regardless of the space.
Novak said that these measures were all done with the safety of fans in mind, especially during high demand games, such as the nationally televised game against defending ACC champion Florida State University on Friday, Sept. 21. Novak stated that this move was not reactionary to a dangerous situation from last season during a high demand game. Crowds at Shea Field for some of BC’s more attractive games—for example, last season against the University of Southern California—have reached alarming and potentially dangerous numbers. “We have reasonable suspicion that, given those crowds that you can visibly see during large contests in the past, this was something we needed to address,” Novak said.
“[Shea Field] is the one and only enclosed area that we have on campus and we need to be cognizant in the case of an emergency of what that might mean,” Novak said. “We had to address the ideas of overcrowding and the opportunities Boston College would put themselves and, more importantly, our fans at risk should a situation escalate to the point where an evacuation was necessary.”
Neither the BCPD nor the Newton and Boston Fire Departments—all of which have been involved in the development of these plans—have put an exact total of cars and patrons that Shea Field can hold during tailgates. Novak, however, expects “a comfortable number” albeit a “slightly higher attrition rate” of season ticket holders. This is likely the result of an undisclosed but expected rise in ticket prices, as well as the limitations on the number of fans that can join tailgates and the fewer number of cars that will be allowed on the field.
The University is in the process of creating additional areas for parking and entertainment for both the students and the general populace for the upcoming season, similar to the Superfan Zone introduced prior to the USC game. Novak could not comment on which plans will be implemented in the future—he said, however, that improving entertainment and hospitality on game day, along with upholding history, is very important to BC Athletics’ plans. “We recognize that continuing to build the pregame and in-game experience at BC Athletics is going to be paramount,” Novak said. “Not just in 2015 but well beyond.”
Despite the University’s efforts, however, BC Athletics does not expect universal praise for these new regulations, especially after the backlash following last season’s changes to the tailgating policies. “We recognize that Shea Field has long been a popular establishment on this campus and like all great cultures that have longstanding tradition in history, change will often be met with some challenges,” Novak said.
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Senior Staff