After taking a year off for COVID, the rivalry is renewed between the Yale Bulldogs and Harvard Crimson. The two football teams will square off at the Yale Bowl Saturday at noon.
“Super excited. It’s a big weekend,” said Andy Yang, a second-year student from Los Angeles.
Anthony Moir, general manager of a hotel called The Study at Yale says “The Game” is Yale’s homecoming.
“It’s a big celebratory weekend for everyone that’s coming into New Haven,” said Moir, noting that only commencement draws bigger crowds to campus.
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“I think it’s just a really big tradition and it definitely makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself,” said Victoria DeMersseman, a freshman from Albuquerque.
Saturday’s festivities will mark the first Harvard-Yale game for first and second-year students.
“There’s a lot of firsts that we missed out on last year that we’re finally getting to do,” said Yang.
“I’m pretty excited. I haven’t really been to any football games so far. It’ll be my first and it’ll be my first Harvard-Yale game,” added Paden Nichols, a freshman from Seattle.
Usually, Yale students host Harvard students in their dorms. This year, the university has banned bunking up because of COVID.
“They’re going to be here and they’re going to be like doing things anyway and probably encountering Yale students so I don’t know that’s it’s necessarily going to be all that effective in terms of stopping Covid spread,” DeMersseman pointed out.
Students said the policy will be hard to enforce.
“There aren’t really any people monitoring dorms so you can just swipe them in,” said Nichols. “I’m not really sure what the consequences are but I’m not planning on breaking any rules.”
The decision may have an impact on ticket sales. The game has not sold out. However, finding a hotel room this late in the game could be a real Hail Mary.
“We are sold out tonight and tomorrow night,” said Dominic Ruggieri, general manager of the Graduate New Haven Hotel.
“Right now there’s about 50-55 on the waiting list,” added Moir.
People began to check into their hotel rooms Friday and business was bustling at area restaurants.
“We have extra staff. We know it’s crazy with the games, the line is out the door,” said Ashley Suraci, a manager at Claire’s Corner Copia.
Local businesses are banking on the boost the game will bring.
“It definitely is a big one, especially now that we’re coming out of Covid it’s going to have a huge impact this November for us,” said Ruggieri.
“A lot of people who aren’t from around here come, a lot of the fans, and it just creates a lot of people coming for food and drinks and around the town. I think it helps the economy,” added Suraci.
While Yale hopes to defend their overtime win from 2019, just being able to gather for the game is a win in the book of many fans.
“With COVID, a lot of us haven’t really be able to get together lately and I’m just really looking forward to be back in a social scene where people are just excited to be together and happy and celebrating life,” said Tony Ferrai a graduate student from San Diego.