For decades, students decked out in their brown and white Lehigh gear have crammed into buses for a short 20-minute ride to Lafayette for the Rivalry game.
This bus ride, along with other components of game day such as public safety and parking, requires significant time to plan. Planning for next year’s game will start right after this year’s game ends.
Allen Biddinger, the director for Athletic Facilities and Events at Lehigh, said the Rivalry game is part of the Lehigh student experience.
The staff who organize and run the game take notes after each game to determine what needs to be changed for the next year. For example, the number of buses and the location and quantity of restroom facilities have changed throughout the years.
One change this year is the newly completed tailgating area for Lehigh fans.
Andrew Foster, the associate athletic director for Facilities and Operations at Lafayette, said two years ago when the game was held at Lafayette, the Lehigh tailgating area was under construction. This construction has been completed and the lot is now paved.
One of the largest tasks in planning the tradition is making sure students stay safe at the game and in transportation to and from the event. Biddinger said staff from Lehigh and Lafayette as well as Easton police meet two to three weeks before the game to discuss these issues.
“Safety and security is at the forefront for all players, coaches, fans, spectators and all alike,” Foster said.
Biddinger said students are encouraged to take the bus to eliminate the potential for drunk driving and also to transport students who otherwise wouldn’t have a way to get to the stadium.
As of Nov. 9, only 35 percent of ticket holders for the game also purchased a bus pass. Rich Haas, the assistant athletic director for sales and marketing at Lehigh, said the bus is the safest and most efficient way for students to get to the game.
Haas said he imagines that students will want to use services like Uber or Lyft, but this proposes a few issues.
There are approximately 800 students without bus passes, so that would mean hundreds of rides would be transporting students between campuses, which will increase traffic and inflate the ride costs.
Riding the bus would eliminate any traffic or parking issues, and Haas said it would be a stress-free experience for students.
Students who have bus passes will board the bus at Grace Hall. Once the buses get off the highway en route to Lafayette, the Bethlehem and Easton police departments have coordinated to escort the buses to campus to avoid traffic. Then, students will get dropped off at the tailgating fields next to the stadium. Police at each campus make sure the students board and leave the buses in a safe manner.
Lafayette Public Safety denied a request for an interview by The Brown and White.