Living room atmosphere
By Brian Fitzgerald
Kenn Elmore is inviting students to what might be the city’s biggest Super Bowl party.
Based on the large turnout at the televised Red Sox World Series victory at Nickerson Field, BU administrators have decided to broadcast Super Bowl XXXIX at Agganis Arena on Sunday, February 6.
“We’ll be setting up the largest living room in Boston,” says Elmore, the dean of students.
There won’t be any sofas or recliners, but there will be free food, prize giveaways, and football action on not just one giant screen, but four — a 9-by-13-foot full-color LED video screen on each face of the center-hung scoreboard. “The scoreboard will be lowered to a more appropriate height for a fan to watch the game head-on,” says Elmore.
Opening Agganis Arena to students for the excitement of watching the local team vie for a national championship, Elmore says, is part of the University’s participation in Operation Student Shield. The citywide initiative aims to curb the misbehavior that has been blamed for vandalism and violence — and contributing to two fatalities — after last year’s Patriots and Red Sox championships. On January 31, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (Hon.’01) met with area college and university officials to talk about security, and Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen O’Toole recently discussed safety measures with college student leaders in the city.
Elmore says victory celebrations on the streets should be avoided because they are inherently unsafe. In an e-mail sent to all students, Elmore warned of the dangers of being in a large, unorganized crowd, noting that BU will continue to cooperate with law enforcement and other agencies to identify students acting illegally and inappropriately. He wrote that students involved in such conduct will be subject to judicial sanctions, which may include suspension or expulsion.
Instead of putting themselves at risk, says Elmore, students can be a part of a special community event at Agganis Arena. How many students will file into the facility to watch the New England Patriots’ quest for a third Super Bowl victory in four years? Elmore says attendance is difficult to predict. “For game 4 of the World Series, 1,500 people showed up at Nickerson Field, and that was an event that happened at the last minute, and news was spread pretty much word-of-mouth,” he says. “When it was over, many students approached me and told me how much fun they had. So I’d love to have more than 6,000 people in Agganis Arena for the game. I guarantee that students will be able to make all the noise they want in this living room without offending their neighbors.”
The Student Activities Office and the Student Union Programming Council, which are sponsoring the party, have telecast sporting events in the past at the George Sherman Union’s Metcalf Ballroom, the Union Court, and the BU Central basement lounge. But this year’s Super Bowl, Elmore says, is a unique opportunity to take advantage of the new arena. “Agganis Arena is ideal for this type of activity when the space is available,” he says.
Elmore says the event also gives students a chance to see the facility, which is barely a month old, for the first time. There will also be free ice skating at Agganis that night. People can bring their own skates or rent them at the arena.
As the Patriots advanced in the NFL playoffs, Elmore began talking with administrators, including Assistant Vice President Peter Smokowski, about the possibility of televising the Super Bowl at Agganis Arena. “It’s been in the works for a while,” according to Elmore. “I said, ‘Peter, if the Patriots make it to the Super Bowl — and I don’t want to jinx them, mind you — but if they make it, maybe we should show it at the arena.’ And he was enthusiastic about the idea.”
Leanna Work (SED’07) watched last year’s Super Bowl in the Metcalf Ballroom. She is “leaning toward” viewing Super Bowl XXXIX at the new arena. “Being around a large crowd of people while watching an important sporting event is always exciting,” she says. Plus, there is the element of rivalry because the Patriots are playing the Philadelphia Eagles, a team whose home city, she says, “is not that far away.” She expects the party to draw BU’s Eagles fans as well as rabid Pats fans.
“This is another way for us to do our part to provide opportunities for students on campus for these emotionally charged sporting events,” says Elmore, “where, hopefully, they make the choice not only to attend, but also to celebrate appropriately on campus, and not in the neighborhoods.”