A tradition not to Rent
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 00:10
Waking up to my 8 a.m. alarm this past Saturday morning for UConn’s match-up with Buffalo reminded me of a certain passion many colleagues and I share about UConn football: I hate Rentschler Field.
I hate taking a bus or driving more than a half hour off-campus to see a UConn football home game. I hate losing sleep just to wake up early enough to be on time for a new game. And I hate the fact that this school’s “home” stadium feels nothing like home.
If you take a look at every other FBS school in the country, you would see that we are in the very small minority. Only 25 schools (about 20 percent) have off-campus football stadiums. If you break down those 25 off-campus stadiums, you would see that only five of them – including UCLA, Miami (FL) and UConn – are more than 15 miles off-campus. And while it seems nice to be grouped together with the strong football histories of Miami and UCLA, this is without a doubt a grouping of schools that UConn needs to remove itself from as soon as possible.
There are a lot of different ways this problem could be solved, in my opinion. But I do have one specific idea that I think could solve every problem with the Rentschler Field situation. That idea lies in the acres of cow fields to the left of Route 195 on the way into Storrs: a football stadium on Horsebarn Hill.
Think about the factors that make the Rentschler Field situation such an annoying one. My short list includes the distance, student attendance and the absence of tradition. Considering these factors, a Horsebarn Hill stadium just makes perfect sense. There’s more than enough room for multiple stadiums, it would be an awesome presence for anyone entering campus to see and, most importantly, it’s on-campus.
The distance and attendance problem would be solved automatically, as on-campus students would not have to walk more than fifteen minutes to get to a football game. Now, between waiting for and taking buses, and/or driving and parking in East Hartford, the time spent going to Rentschler is a forty-five minute process at the very least. But more importantly, the absence of tradition through Rentschler Field would be gone with an on-campus stadium.
In a broad sense of the idea, tradition starts when people enjoy what they are doing. In the specific UConn sense of the idea, students would enjoy going to the games more if they were convenient to go to and were packed with excitement (which they would be if students went, which they would be more inclined to do if it were convenient).
And going further with tradition, can we please get a stadium with a nickname better than “The Rent?” A field on Horsebarn Hill arena could be anything from “The Barn,” to “The Hill,” to “Anything that does not make it sound like we are borrowing a stadium.” Granted, opposing players seeing “The Barn” on their upcoming schedule might not be too intimidated, but at least it would be something familiar and in accordance with UConn’s tradition as an agricultural college.
This issue is not a new one, and it is also doubtfully one that could be remedied soon. It is simply one that should be considered. A home football stadium is a place that should feel like home for the students, players and neighboring community. And while a manure-filled cow pasture may not be the perfect answer, it’s a start that would make waking up at 8 a.m. on Saturdays a little easier.