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Annual Blue-Gold Game relocates to LaBar due to stadium renovations

| Friday, April 17, 2015

The 86th Blue-Gold Game will be held at LaBar Practice Complex this Saturday, marking the end of the spring football season.

The Blue-Gold Game is a football scrimmage between Notre Dame’s offense and defense. John Heisler, senior associate athletics director, said the game is the last of Notre Dame’s 15 practices permitted during the spring and serves as a way for coaches and fans to see how the team is doing.

“In the past, it’s been a great opportunity for families to bring their kids and see how our football team is coming along,” Heisler said. “For our fans, young or old, it’s an opportunity to see some players that they haven’t seen before. This is kind of the first look into next season, in terms of the personnel.”

Quarterback Everett Golson, pictured in red, looks to pass during last year’s Blue-Gold  Game.   Saturday, members of the football team will compete in a friendly match-up in preparation for their 2015 season.Michael Yu | The Observer

Graduate student Quarterback Everett Golson, pictured in red, looks to pass during last year’s Blue-Gold Game. Saturday, members of the football team will compete in a friendly matchup in preparation for the 2015 season.

Sophomore receiver Justin Brent said he is excited for his family to be able to come watch him play football again.

“There’s only one time in the spring when our families get to come see one of the main reasons we’re here at Notre Dame,” Brent said. “I’m excited for them to see all the hard work we’ve been putting in. It’s a time for my teammates and I to really display everything we’ve been working on this spring.”

Heisler said a unique scoring system is designed for the game to award points for both offensive and defensive plays.

Sophomore Nick Jones said the Blue-Gold Game represents the start of a new Notre Dame football season for fans.

“While it doesn’t carry the clout of an actual football game, the scrimmage gives those who want it a look at new players, formations and plays,” Jones said. “For those who don’t care for football strategy, it’s a reason to cheer and be excited about the upcoming season.”

“It’s a really cool way to see where the team’s headed and who’s playing what position,” freshman Mary Shea Kelly-Buckley said. “I think Notre Dame is for sure going to win this one.”

Heisler said this year’s game had to be moved from Notre Dame Stadium to the team’s outdoor practice facility, LaBar Practice Complex, because of Campus Crossroads construction. This change of venue significantly limits the number of people able to attend the game.

“We’re going from an 80,000-seat venue to something we’ve kind of built from scratch around our practice fields because there really is no permanent seating there,” Heisler said. “We’ve managed to build some temporary seating for about 4,000 people to be utilized by the University and the football departments. That’ll be the biggest difference about this year’s game.”

The University considered hosting the game at a variety of venues, including some off-campus locations, but ultimately decided to use LaBar Practice Complex in order to minimize expenses, according to Heisler.

“We looked at some other options, but if you go somewhere else there’s obviously some potential significant costs involved,” Heisler said. “Maybe it’s not perfect because we aren’t able to offer the public the access that everybody’s used to, but it just seemed to make the most sense in terms of what we could do in terms of the event itself.”

Heisler said this year’s Blue-Gold Game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network as in years past. Additionally, a live telecast of the game will be shown in Purcell Pavilion for football fans on campus that are unable to watch the game in person.

Jones said he was disappointed he would not be able to attend this year’s Blue-Gold Game.

“While I understand that the new construction makes the stadium an impractical venue for the Blue-Gold Game, I wish that they had chosen a venue that allowed students and fans the opportunity to attend the game, such as Soldier Field in Chicago, as had been rumored earlier this year,” Jones said.

Brent said the game will be different without most of the student body.

“It’s not as fun as being on the practice fields, of course, but it’s for a good cause because they’re trying to expand the stadium,” Brent said. “I know a lot of people want to go and be a part of the game. I feel bad for them, but hopefully we’ll get this out of the way, play on the practice fields right now and return to the stadium where all the students can enjoy it.”

Heisler said he is not sure if Campus Crossroads will affect next year’s Blue-Gold Game.

“We certainly knew this was going to likely be the situation based on these several years of construction,” Heisler said. “We could be facing the same decisions a year from now. There are no guarantees what will happen.”

Heisler said he hopes fans will show their support for other Notre Dame sports teams this weekend, almost all of which will have free admission.

“There’s a lot happening on campus this weekend,” Heisler said. “We’ve eliminated admission charges for most of the home events. With the understanding that the general public isn’t really going to have access to the Blue-Gold Game, we’re thinking maybe people will watch it in Purcell in between attending other Irish athletic events.”

An email sent to students Thursday night said there are a limited number of tickets for the Blue-Gold Game. Tickets will be distributed on Friday beginning at 9 a.m. at the LaFortune Information Desk and Box Office.

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About Katie Galioto

Katie, the Observer's current Managing Editor, is a senior majoring in political science, with minors in Business Economics and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She's a former Walsh Hall resident who now lives off campus and hails from Chanhassen, Minnesota. Follow her on Twitter @katiegalioto.

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