Harrington Gardiner | Staff Writer
Photo Credit: James Heath
The Hampton vs. Howard rivalry has been renewed, but this time it was in the windy city of Chicago.
The Pirates blew away the Bison as Deondre Francois threw for four touchdown passes in Hampton’s 41-20 victory Sept. 14 at Soldier Field.
More than 51,000 tickets were sold for the “Battle of the Real HU” football game.
According to the chicagofootballclassic.org, the $1.5 million in proceeds from last year’s Chicago Classic went to the event’s scholarship fund.
After years of the “HU vs HU” game being played in Washington, D.C., at RFK Stadium, Hampton Athletic Director Eugene Marshall and Howard Athletic Director Kery D. Davis decided that a change of venue to Chicago would be best for the alumni and aspiring college students that stayed in the Midwest.
“It wasn’t about the revenue, and that has yet to be determined,” Marshall said. “It was about bringing two historically black colleges with great pedigree to Soldier Field; and the attendance figures were 51,353, the largest Chicago football classic attendance in the 22-year history. The driving force behind the Chicago football classic is to generate scholarship money to send Chicago kids to college, preferably HBCU’s.”
There was a huge turnout in Chicago, and the attendance was nearly four times as the 13,068 who attended the 2016 game at RFK Stadium, according to hamptonpirates.com.
Tickets for last month’s game were sold for as much as $50 on chicagofootballclassic.org. The lowest price ticket was $20.
The Hampton University Marching Force also had an integral part in the weekend festivities. They performed at multiple Chicago venues, and a lot of money went into the trip. There were more than 100 sponsors that covered some of the expenses for the hotels and other events during the weekend.
“The buses for the trip were $70,000, the meals were $20,000 and the sponsors paid for our stay at the Hilton Garden at McCormick Place,” Hampton Marching Force Director Thomas Jones said.
Members of the Hampton University athletic marketing team also went along for the trip and fulfilled their gameday duties at a bigger venue.
“Being a part of the athletic marketing department and going to Chicago was a great experience as I got to do a lot of networking, I met with some sports agents, other marketing companies, and made a lot of big-level media connections,” Hampton University marketing team member Jonathan Scott said. “It was a great trip alone for my brand and what I want to do personally.”
Community involvement was just as vital to the gameday experience. Notable celebrities attended the game, including Chicago rapper G Herbo and Empire actress Ta’Rhonda Jones.
“Because the venue was bigger than years past, it gave more exposure to the rivalry,” Hampton Marching Force member Yvonne Sanders said. “A lot of alumni from the Midwest who weren’t able to travel to Washington, D.C, in previous years were able to go to this game.”
Hampton improved to 2-1. Howard fell to 0-3.