Reevaluate the Shamrock Series
Observer Staff | Friday, October 5, 2012
When Notre Dame and Miami face off in Chicago on Saturday, it will mark the fourth installment in the highly successful Shamrock Series, the University’s annual off-site home football game. The series promotes the Notre Dame brand and has brought the Irish to San Antonio, New York and the Washington, D.C. area prior to this year’s tilt in Chicago.
The University has done an admirable job promoting Notre Dame and consistently finds new heights on which to elevate its imprint.
But, this time, it has found a new low.
Three weeks ago, Notre Dame students received an email telling them only 288 tickets would be made available to the student body for this year’s contest. That’s 288 tickets for an undergraduate population of more than 8,000 students. For a home game. In Chicago.
Soldier Field is 94 miles from the Notre Dame campus. Alumni, as usual, will travel in droves to see the gold (and, this week, blue) helmets shimmering under the lights in what is sure to be a Notre Dame celebration that spans the entire weekend. But only 3.6 percent of the students were invited to the party.
One of the unique aspects of the Shamrock Series is its inclusion of academic and other non-football activities that the University puts on during the annual event. This year’s docket includes a pep rally at Millennium Park, drummers’ circle and several academic lectures.
When the Shamrock Series was in other parts of the country, a lack of student tickets was understandable. But this year is different. Even students without a car on campus could have easily made the trip by bus or train and taken part in a spectacular atmosphere at one of America’s iconic venues.
Saturday was a day Notre Dame students – many of whom are from Chicago – have had circled on their calendar for quite a while. The Notre Dame-Chicago connection is a special one, and that’s due in large part to the lofty number of students from the area.
This week, Irish players who grew up in the Windy City have described what this weekend means to them as Bears fans, Chicago residents and Notre Dame student-athletes. It’s an experience they will cherish far after their playing careers are finished, but that opportunity has mostly been withheld from students.
Once the University announced the ticket allotment for this game, many Chicago-based students decided to go home for the weekend, even without a ticket after being forced to reevaluate their plans. The University’s decision led many other students to look for tickets through outside sources, such as StubHub, for greater than the $125 price it offered students, an amount costing about half as much as the home season ticket booklet.
Maybe it’s time to reevaluate what the Shamrock Series is all about.
If Notre Dame is trying to promote its brand and celebrate its academic and athletic brands, how can it properly do so a couple hours from campus with only a 288-student allotment? This is a college football program. We are the college students who can bring our voices and our spirit to support a team of our classmates and peers. Anyone who’s ever been to a Notre Dame home game knows the student section is the pulse of the Stadium. Now, despite a golden opportunity, the Shamrock Series will feel like a home game in name only.
Maybe the decision was made to maximize a profit. Maybe the decision was made to appease as much of the alumni base as possible. Maybe the decision was made to keep as many students in South Bend as possible the weekend before midterms.
The University at least owes the student body an explanation for this disappointment. An integral part of the home football experience is the student body – and most of us will be missing when Notre Dame and Miami revive a once-intense rivalry this weekend, less than 100 miles from campus.