The UNH Homecoming and Parents Weekend brought over 20,000 people to campus events. Morale was at an all-time high on the first Saturday of October, when the UNH Wildcats clawed their way to a win over the College of William & Mary Griffins. It was a commendable on-field performance and thousands of fans were able to witness the victory. As the first Homecoming to take place in the new Wildcat Stadium, more UNH football enthusiasts were present than ever before, making for a record-breaking crowd.
The increase in fans evidently showed in the notably high number of ticket sales for the Homecoming game. The new ticket system provider, Glitnir, was an excellent addition to the ticket-buying process and presented several advantages along with it. Fans may have noticed that the price of the tickets have been cut nearly in half since Athletics made the transition away from Ticketmaster. Members of the Athletics program said they are very pleased with their decision to partner with Glitnir, and this sense of pride shows through with the amount of online tickets purchases. According to Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affiars Jon Danos, “non-student ticket sales were in the 12 to 13,000 range.” Coupled with the simplified navigation that Glitnir presents, options for parking reservations were also made available.
Although the tickets for this year’s Homecoming were significantly cheaper than last, words of vexation have been passed around in regard to individuals who were admitted into the stadium without a watchful eye on their ticket. Non-student and alumni ticket prices varied depending on the type of ticket being purchased. This could range anywhere from $20 for general admission up to $35 for reserved tickets. Additionally, a few $50 tickets for box seats sold on a seasonal ticket basis were available. Displeasure from ticket-buyers originated from the potential that a few non-ticket holders were given the same advantages as those who had paid for their tickets. All tickets for reserved seats (including box seats) are subject to being checked to be sure all fans are sitting in the correct seats, which is a responsibility that Athletics does its best to uphold.
“My ticket was surprisingly not being checked when I entered [the] Homecoming tailgate,” UNH senior occupational thereapy major Stefanie Cheung said. “There was a guard, but [he] was not really checking tickets… Some people went over to him with tickets to get the wristband for above 21.”
“To hear that some people could have gotten into the stadium without having a ticket checked is possible. But we have much better control [on the admittance of people] than we’ve had historically,” Danos said.
The majority of guests (about 95 percent) entered the Wildcat Stadium through Gate A. Danos admitted that the current ticket monitoring system is imperfect, but the new stadium and protection zones, such as the gates, that came with it allow for a more controlled entry. Athletics plans on identifying points that were more difficult to control as far as entry was concerned, in order to close in on such areas and establish more secure boundaries. Ideally, such action will give more control to ticket-checkers, and areas that are not intended access points will be closed off, not just for Homecoming 2017, but as soon as possible for the remaining games this season.
In addition to all of the successes and celebrations that occurred during Homecoming, UNH Police maintained a comprehensive security plan for the especially large event. With the increase in foot traffic also came an increase in security personnel. According to UNH Police Chief Paul Dean, “there were approximately 74 people taken into custody by the UNH Police Department over the three day weekend. The vast majority of the incidents were alcohol related.”
In the midst of all the festivities, many students have reported lost items. If there are lost items, campus venues turn the property over to the UNH Police and the staff attempts to locate owners. “If no owner can be identified, items are held for safekeeping. The vast majority of the items lost are returned to owners,” Chief Dean said.
Despite the small sample of misfortunes that occurred over Homecoming Weekend, the bulk of Wildcats can remember this past weekend in a positive light.
“We were very focused on the experience…the bands, the balloon artists and the food that [was] provided for students in the dungeon and in the ‘Cat Pack Plaza. There was a lot going on that we think made a great experience and record-breaking crowd,” Danos said.