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Students, university preparing for largest crowd of year in Homecoming

“Homecoming is quite simply the event of the season, and the football game is right at the heart of what most Wildcat fans consider the best weekend of the year,” University of New Hampshire (UNH) Associate Athletic Director for Communications Mike Murphy said.  “Once again we anticipate Homecoming to be the largest crowd of the year. In 2018, for example, we had nearly 17,000 fans, many of whom never even left Boulder Field. The prior year we set the all-time Wildcat Stadium attendance record. Needless to say, it will be a big crowd that we look forward to welcoming back to campus.” 

The game versus Elon will be televised live on NBC Sports Boston at 3:30 p.m. During the halftime show, sponsored by Dr. Pepper, two UNH students will compete for $7,500 in scholarships. 

“It’s the second straight year of this event, which is a fantastic way to engage students and fans alike,” Murphy said. “Groups of 20 or more have the opportunity to purchase tickets in the Touchdown Tents, which feature an all-you-can-eat buffet and bar service just behind the end zone. For traditional tailgaters, we are opening the parking lots an hour earlier than we do for other home games, so cars can park as early as 10:30 a.m. This helps alleviate the congestion that was previously associated with Homecoming.” 

Tailgating cleanup efforts will be facilitated by staff, who will be providing trash bags for every car that parks in tailgating. Fans are asked to use those bags for their trash once they pack up and get ready to enter Wildcat Stadium.  

“We were pleased with the cooperation and it made things much smoother for our cleanup crew after the game (last year),” Murphy said. “The goal is for everyone to have a great time, be respectful of the other fans and then to enjoy a great football game that our Wildcats win!” 

In addition to the football game, a host of other events fill out the rest of the three-day weekend. Friday’s highlights include UNH Field Hockey vs. Monmouth University (4:00 p.m. at Memorial Field), the Homecoming Parade on Main Street in Durham at 5 p.m., Men’s Soccer vs Stony Brook at 7 p.m. at Wildcat Stadium, and the “Bright Star” performance at Paul Creative Arts Center (PCAC) Johnson Theatre at 7 p.m. on all three days. 

Tailgating opens at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday near Wildcat Stadium. At 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, the Faculty Concert Series will present Elizabeth Gunlogson on the clarinet in the PCAC Bratton Recital Hall. The UNH Men’s Hockey team takes on Guelph at 5 p.m. at the Whittemore Center.  

As in the past, the UNH and Durham police departments will be working to keep traffic moving and ensure safety of Homecoming participants and guests. 

“The department has been working with student organizations, UNH alumni office, UNH athletics and the Town of Durham for an enjoyable and successful 2019 Homecoming Weekend,” UNH Police Chief Paul H. Dean said.  

“The safety of our community and visitors are paramount to a successful Homecoming,” Dean said. “There will be a significant law enforcement presence throughout the weekend to ensure traffic, pedestrian, and general public safety.” 

“Traffic congestion is always a concern with the expected significant increase in campus visitors,” he added. “Temporary traffic patterns will be in place to improve access to events. However, patience and understanding is important. We encourage everyone to give extra time when traveling to campus events be courteous to others, be mindful of increased pedestrian traffic, and follow signs and direction from law enforcement.” 

Durham Police Chief David Kurz concurred.  

“We coordinate efforts with UNH Police, UNH administration and coordinate the parade and other events so that the Homecoming events are enjoyed by all,” Kurz said. “[We encourage students to] have a great time seeing all your classmates and be safe!” 

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