There is a lot lacking in Harvard's planning for its upcoming football season and not much effort in evidence to show that Harvard really cares about minimizing the impact on the community. To be clear, I think there should be more public events throughout Harvard's campus, including the athletic fields in Allston. There should also be more care taken to not disrupt the traffic and neighbors' quality of life in ways that might happen when thousands of people converge for an event.
Harvard officials have predicted that 10,000-15,000 people will attend Harvard's first ever night game which is scheduled for Saturday, September 22 at 7:30 vs. Brown. At tonight's Allston Civic Association meeting I asked what Harvard's contingency plans were in case 20,000 people showed up. (Harvard Stadium has a seating capacity of 30,898.)
I was amazed that Kevin McCluskey's answered my question with a question, "What if Napoleon had B-52 bombers?"
Yesterday I was talking with a neighbor who asked why there is so much fuss over a nighttime football game. And as this latest example shows, it isn't as much about a football game as it is about the utter disregard and lack of respect that Harvard shows for our community. Harvard knew months ago that this night game was being scheduled, but they only come to our neighborhood civic association to discuss it 1 month before their first game. And that is only after the Chair of the Boston Licensing Commission told them to come talk to the ACA and they won't even politely answer the questions from the community!
So instead of a rude remark, let's look at the data to try to estimate how many people might attend this game. The NCAA website lists college football attendance #s from 1998 - 2006. Here is Harvard football's average attendance in each of those years:
2006 - 15,548
2005 - 12,169
2004 - no data
2003 - 11,110
2002 - 16,399
2001 - 8,761
2000 - 11,596
1999 - 8,704
1998 - 10,355
1997 - 7,612
Harvard hosted Yale in 2006 which inflates the average attendance, but it was still the 2nd highest average in the last several years. In 2005 when Harvard hosted Brown 11,134 attended the game. In 2001, the Brown game attendance was 8,511.
So how many people might attend the first ever night game? Probably some people will attend because it is a "first" and maybe Saturday night, a time when people are typically going out to do fun things will better fit into people's schedules than a game in the middle of the day. Or maybe not.
But please just treat Allston residents with respect, don't withhold information, and work with us together to figure out how you can get the most use of your facilities while being the best neighbor that you can.