Yale versus Harvard. It’s not just a game it’s, “The Game.” Around 60,000 fans are expected at the historic Yale Bowl Saturday, many coming from out of state, creating excitement and not just for football fans.
Business owners throughout New Haven are hoping to capitalize on the influx of people hungry for more than just football.
“Every hotel is sold out. The restaurants are booked. It’s thrilling,” said Dana Zimmerman, area director of sales and marketing for Omni Hotels.
The excitement is justified. Thousands of Harvard and Yale alumni have converged on New Haven, including Eric Hilininski, a 1990 Yale grad and former football player, who made the trip from Chicago.
“The cost for a family for a weekend and hotel probably looking at $1,000 or $1,500 bucks depending on how long you’re going to stay,” said Hilinski who played on the 1989 Ivy League championship team while at Yale.
Harvard Alum and former football player Jim Kozlowski traveled all the way from Texas and said he expects to spend up to $1,000 in New Haven this weekend.
“We’re going to spend a couple nights here in New Haven. We’re gonna be taking a tour of the city. We’re going to go to a couple nice restaurants,” said Koslowski, a 1979 Harvard grad who now lives in Austin, Texas.
With and influx of people like this there are challenges for the city. Among them, keeping the city and the fans safe.
“We’re gonna have over 100 police officers just alone from the New Haven Police Department,” said Rick Fontana, Deputy Director of Emergency Management for the City of New Haven.
New Haven Police will be joined by Yale Police and other emergency responders from around the city.
There is also the issue of transportation and parking. Hilinski remembers what is was like when he was an undergrad and said he will limit his driving this weekend.
“I’ll probably avoid driving. Carpool with friends and walk do a lot of walking,” said Hilinski.
New Haven officials said there will be street closures and parking restrictions around the Yale Bowl and are asking for patience.
“We want everybody to come out. Have a good time. Have fun but ensure safety is number one,” said Fontana.
Alumni we spoke with, said money, security and traffic are not a worry for them. Instead the thing they’re more concerned with is the final score.
“This game to me means a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends and just see Yale knock the smack out of Harvard,” said Hilininski.
After 135 matchups dating back to 1875, the home state Yale Bulldogs have won “The Game” seven more times than Harvard.