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Probably time we cut back on the neutral site paycheck games and put them back on campus, no?
Virginia Tech returns to FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland this Saturday to take on the Cincinnati Bearcats. Unlike the Hokies last trip to FedEx Field, a near-sell out against the Boise State Broncos to open the 2010 season, plenty of seats still available for this weekend's Hokies-Bearcats tussle.
According to a report in the Washington Post, the Washington Redskins let Virginia Tech know that only 38,000 tickets had been sold to this weekend's game. While the team expects "well over 50,000 distributed tickets" by game day, that doesn't guarantee even a half-full FedEx Field on Saturday.
Fans are balking at the ticket price -- as high as $174.95 and with even the cheapest seats face value over $50 -- as well as the draw. Certainly doesn't help that Virginia Tech got drilled by previously winless Pittsburgh a few weeks back.
Still, while this game is technically a Cincinnati home game -- the Bearcats were paid a couple mil to move the game to Maryland -- and the announced attendance will likely be more than can fill UC's Nippert Stadium, the trend of selling home games to blah NFL stadiums has got to end soon, right? How many more games with 20-30k fans in sterile NFL stadiums will we have to endure before someone rightly points out that this is just getting silly.
Boston College recently played in a game like this back to open up the 2008 season. In a game called the FirstMerit Patriot Bowl, the Kent State Golden Flashes moved their home game with the Eagles to Cleveland Browns Stadium. An announced crowd of 10,788 watched the Eagles shut out the Golden Flashes 21-0. Having made the trip out to Cleveland for that game, I'd be surprised if there was actually more than 1-2k fans in the stadium. I have the pictures to prove it.
The Eagles also have two similar games on the future schedule -- both in 2014. BC is scheduled to open the 2004 season down the road in Foxboro against the UMass Minutemen. While the game is technically a home game for UMass, I'd be shocked if more than 44.5k actually show up for that one. At which point you have to ask what the point of trekking down I-95 is if the actual attendance doesn't outstrip Alumni Stadium's seating capacity?* Better tailgating restrictions?
Later that year, BC again hits the road for a neutral site game against Army at Yankee Stadium. That game makes a bit more sense given that the new stadium is larger than both Alumni and Michie, but I have to wonder whether that game will draw more than 44.5k either. Both Air Force and Notre Dame have already opted out of their scheduled games with Army at the Stadium in 2012 and 2013, respectively. I would not be shocked if this game is moved back to Chestnut Hill or cancelled altogether by the next A.D., especially with the Eagles slated to have only four ACC home games in even-numbered years.
At what point do programs realize that, unlike Alabama-Michigan or Army-Navy, they can't fill a super-sized NFL stadium for a game five weeks into the regular season? Put these games back on campus. The college football regular season was meant to be played on college campuses with all the pageantry and tradition that makes the sport so special. They weren't meant to be played on Major League Baseball diamonds or behemoth NFL stadiums. That's what bowl season is for.
* Note to the next Boston College Athletic Director: please get out of both of these "neutral" site games and put these games back on a college campus. Also don't enter into any of these bad deals where you end up playing Notre Dame or Michigan in Arrowhead Stadium with no return dates. Oh, and six home games a season is the absolute minimum requirement if you want keep loyal season ticket holders happy. Seven would be ideal. Thanks.