Although The Game will take place for the 130th time on Nov. 23 at the Yale Bowl, there is also a new rivalry game in the works for the Bulldogs and the Crimson.
On Jan. 11, 2014, the Bulldogs and the Crimson will meet in Madison Square Garden for the first ever equivalent of The Game on ice. Athletic directors, players, coaches and fans all aspire for an event that will add another dimension to the age-old Yale-Harvard athletic rivalry.
“This is something that is an exciting opportunity for people who love to watch college hockey,” said Director of Athletics Tom Beckett. “The idea of bringing Yale and Harvard together in one of the greatest cities in the world is a terrific idea.”
The Leverage Agency is the full-service sports, entertainment and media marketing company that helped organize the “Rivalry on Ice.” Ben Sturner, the founder and CEO of Leverage Agency said in a message to the News that there will be pre- and post-game parties as well as discounted hotel and Amtrak ticket offers for students.
The rivalry on the gridiron began in 1857 in New Haven, but the Bulldogs’ battle with the Crimson did not take to the ice until 1900. While Harvard prevailed in the first matchup on the field, the Elis defeated the Crimson 5–4 in their first on-ice contest in front of a black-tie audience at Madison Square Garden, but the rivalry has not returned to the Garden since then.
The two universities signed a contract to compete in the “Rivalry on Ice” game for two seasons. NBC, which annually broadcasts The Game, has committed to broadcasting The Rivalry on Ice. Given Yale’s 2013 national championship and the Ivy League’s growing prominence in NCAA hockey, fans said that they hope The Rivalry on Ice can become as distinguished as The Game.
“The Game is more than just a game — it’s a spectacle,” Andrew Sobotka ’15 said. “It’s an event in and of itself, with more than 100 years of history. It’s part of the fabric of American sporting history, which is something that really very few sporting events can say. That’s special.”
As the sport of football grew and developed in America, the tradition of The Game grew with it. Teams sprung up around the country, but year after year, fans across the U.S. looked to Cambridge or New Haven to see the nation’s two oldest universities compete in the country’s most popular sport. Sobotka added that he thinks there is potential for similar growth to help fuel The Rivalry on Ice.
“As college hockey grows — and by all indications, it is growing rapidly — I think an annual game between Harvard and Yale played at a nationally recognized venue like Madison Square Garden could become a noteworthy event in the college hockey world,” Sobotka said.
The rapid growth of college hockey has caused some difficulties for the administration. Last year, when the Bulldogs headed to the Frozen Four, Yale offered subsidies different from those of competitor schools such as UMass-Lowell, and thus had to create more affordable subsidized ticket plans.
Tickets for The Rivalry on Ice went on sale yesterday morning, and while some ticket prices have been driven up to $200, tickets for students are subsidized by the University and sell for just $15.
Members of the team said they hope for The Rivalry on Ice to grow into an event as prominent as The Game.
“I hope the rivalry on ice becomes a lasting tradition,” said hockey captain Jesse Root ’14. “I think it’s a great event for each school’s hockey program and for the teams’ fan bases and alumni. Hopefully it will be as successful as the Harvard Yale football game and generate similar excitement and school spirit for hockey.”
The puck will drop in Madison Square Garden at 8:00 p.m. on Jan. 11.