Y-H Spissue: New Haven businesses gear up for Yale-Harvard Game
After being cancelled last year, the Yale-Harvard Game on Nov. 20 in New Haven will bring crowds of sports fans to New Haven.
Karen Lin, Photo Editor
On Nov. 20, New Haven will host Harvard and Yale fans for the highly anticipated Yale-Harvard Game. As the game-day approaches, hotels are booking up and popular local spot Claire’s Cornercopia is stocking up on coffee cake.
Last year, the event was slated to take place in Cambridge, but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Yale-Harvard Game brings together alumni from both schools, students and faculty in an annual event. This year, since the Game will be hosted in New Haven, business owners expressed excitement for the crowds the weekend will bring, especially since the event was canceled last year.
“This has been a long, long road,” said Claire Criscuolo, Founder of Claire’s Cornercopia. “We could use a break or a boost. Having the Harvard-Yale game is the boost we need.”
Claire’s has been in business for 46 years, so Criscuolo said they have plenty of experience with preparing for The Game.
According to Criscuolo, Claire’s is preparing to make sure they have plenty of baked goods for the weekend, especially the famous Lithuanian coffee cake — which Harvard fans will want when they lose, Criscuolo told the News.
“Coffee cake is the most important thing,” Criscuolo said. “We cannot run out of baked goods. That said, [Harvard and Yale fans] eat everything. Everything becomes portable when it comes to the Game.”
In addition to the highly anticipated football game, Criscuolo said that Claire’s is “extra excited” about all events this year because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the past two years. She said that they are most excited for Yale alumni reunions to be back in person as well.
New Haven’s hotels are also excited for the business. Even more than normal years, Harvard fans and students will need a place to stay since Harvard students are prohibited from staying in Yale dorms over the weekend.
“The past year has been challenging overall and we missed the excitement felt throughout the hotel in general, especially during these important athletic weekends,” Heather Gayatgay, director of brand marketing and communications at The Study at Yale, wrote to the News.
According to Gayatgy, The Study at Yale is completely booked for the Game. Gayatgay said the bookings filled up quickly after Yale announced its outdoor attendance policy at athletic events.
“Guests are eager to attend events in-person again, interest is even stronger during high profile games such as Yale – Harvard,” Gayatgay wrote.
Heather added that The Study has an “extensive” waitlist for rooms. She does not think people will get off the waitlist before the game.
Dana Zimmerman, director of sales and marketing at the Omni Hotel in New Haven, also wrote to the News that the hotel is very busy the weekend of the Game. According to Zimmerman, the Omni is completely sold out on Nov. 19 and has been for several months, but there are still rooms left for Nov. 20, which is game-day.
Zimmerman wrote that the hotel will offer a “lobby experience of complimentary beverages” before The Game as people start pre-gaming. Hotel room demand for the day of this year’s Harvard-Yale game is on par with 2019’s iteration, according to Zimmerman. There is currently no more room on the waiting list at this point. Zimmerman wrote that the event is “very exciting for the staff.”
Similarly, The Graduate New Haven is fully booked both Friday and Saturday. Graduate New Haven’s General Manager Dominic Ruggieri wrote that the hotel typically sees bookings begin to fill up in late spring or early summer for the weekend of The Game.
According to Rosenberg, The Graduate New Haven has a short waiting list, but the hotel does not expect cancellations. She also wrote that The Graduate New Haven’s bar, Old Heidelberg, will open at 9 a.m. instead of 4 p.m. on the day of the Game to accommodate hotel guests and sports fans.
“We are excited to see travel demand climb to pre-COVID levels, and this weekend is no exception,” Rosenberg wrote to the News. “The Harvard-Yale rivalry brings travelers from across the country to New Haven, and after a challenging year, this year’s game feels especially significant for the community.”
The Game will take place at 12 p.m. on Nov. 20 in the Yale Bowl, and information on buying tickets can be found here.
Correction, Nov. 19: This article has been updated to attribute information about booking timelines to the Graduate’s general manager.