Ithaca College’s ticket sales for the annual Cortaca Jug football game against SUNY Cortland closed Sept. 25 with a total of 2,785 tickets sold.
The game organizers aim to break the attendance record for a Division III football game. The current record is 37,355, set by University of St. Thomas and St. John’s University in 2017. Cortaca 2019 had already sold over 30,000 tickets before on-campus selling began. Jaclyn Lawrence, assistant director of athletics for SUNY Cortland, said via email that Cortland sold 3,000 tickets to students, faculty and staff, bringing the total sales to at least 35,785.
Jon Gregory ’10, associate director for the Office of Engagement and Constituent Relations, said that it is unclear exactly where the total number of tickets sold currently stands but that the college is in communication with both MetLife Stadium and Cortland in regard to the total number.
“We will share that number in the days ahead in coordination with the officials from the stadium and both schools,” Gregory said. “Setting the record has been our goal since the day the game was announced, and we are confident that we’re within reach of setting the DIII record — more news to come in the days ahead.”
The Cortaca Jug game between the rival football teams of Ithaca College and Cortland is an annual tradition, but for the first time in Cortaca history, the 2019 competition will be played off-site at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets. This was also the first time that ticket sales for the event have been student-run.
Between Sept. 18 and Sept. 20, more than a dozen Ithaca College sports management students ran the ticket sales. Demand was so high that they offered an additional day of sales Sept. 25, Gregory said.
Gregory said the number of Cortaca tickets sold to students on campus usually averages approximately 1,500 tickets when the game is hosted in Cortland and that the number increases if the game is played on South Hill. Gregory said the sales exceeded initial goals that the team had set for themselves.
“There was a palpable excitement,” Gregory said. “While there was a line to be expected, the feeling that we got from other students was that they were just excited to be part of something, and standing in line for 45 minutes was just kind of part of the experience.”
Fifteen business students led by senior Marco Fontana were part of the sales team and managed the ticket sales every day. The stand sold tickets for a total of 19 hours split over four days, and at most points throughout the process, there was a line of students that ran out of the door.
Liam O’Connell, senior marketing and sport management student, is a member of the sales team. O’Connell said it was nerve-wracking but exciting when he saw the line of students wrapping around the Athletics and Events Center.
“It was a successful couple days of selling, but that’s only half of it,” O’Connell said. “We need everyone that bought tickets to follow through and show up on the 16th of November. It’ll be surreal seeing the student section filled on game day.”
When purchasing tickets, students had the opportunity to sign up for a free bus that will leave from and return to campus on game day. Gregory said that the majority of the students who purchased tickets also indicated an interest in riding the bus.
Sophomore Addison Kelly bought four tickets Sept. 20: one for himself, two for his roommates and one for a friend from his hometown who attends Syracuse University and who will be attending the game.
“I think it’s awesome because being a smaller DIII school, I think it kind of gives us an opportunity to have that bigger-school feeling at a bigger stadium,” Kelly said.