Apparently, Penn State Athletics has decided not to continue the tradition of TAILGREAT at the Bryce Jordan Center. This was a pre-game pep rally of sorts featuring the Blue Band and cheerleaders at the BJC before each home game.
According to WJAC:
“We [were] notified that the Tailgreat would be no more due to some budgetary concerns,” Blue Band director Richard Bundy said.
It was the plug being pulled on Penn State Blue Band’s Tailgreat show, a free pep rally before every home game.
“I think it was an event that was rather unique in the way it was presented so we are working on trying to see how that will affect our game day activities for the Blue Band,” Bundy said.
I think the BOT notified the Blue Band by a note delivered by a messenger in the dark of night.
A statement from Penn State Assistant Athletic Director for Football Communications Jeff Nelson said Tailgreat wasn’t giving the Blue Band enough exposure. “We did not feel that Tailgreat was accomplishing the level of interaction among our more than 100,000 fans and exposure for the Blue Band that is deserved,” Nelson said.
Onward State provides more specific speculation on the costs . . .
A Blue Band source tells us that the reason for this cut given by the Athletic Department was primarily financial. Tailgreat costs approximately $70,000 to put on each year, most of which goes to BJC staffing and rental, and the Athletic Department decided that this cost was too great. This comes just days after the Athletic Department purchased more than 800 iPads for student athletes, which, even conservatively at $300 each (much less than retail), still runs more than three times what Tailgreat cost.
The source also indicated that the Athletic Department says it’s working on a “new event” for the Blue Band to participate in during the pregame hours.
Opponents of cancelling the tradition cite the ability of band parents to see their son or daughter perform when they might not be able to afford the cost of a Penn State football ticket. Others liked being able to hear the band’s halftime show, which they might not be able to do as well or as clearly inside the stadium.
What I found interesting in the whole bit was the allegation that the price tag was a problem. Granted, $70,000 looks like a huge figure (and considering what we are now paying our head coach, the sanction costs, and those darn iPads it is certainly not a negligible amount) but that works out to $10,000 or less per game depending on whether there are 7 or 8 home games in a season.
And weren’t there corporate sponsors at one time???
A little googling found me this excerpt from a book about the Blue Band, A Century of Pride and Precision, where on page 169 it talks about this “new tradition” in 1996. The book notes that the event was a joint project sponsored by AT & T, Wal-Mart, the Alumni Association, and the Nittany Lion Club. The original TailGreat charged an admission fee that was dropped in it’s second year to promote better attendance.
I would think Penn State, even in this sanction-era, should be able to find a half-dozen or so sponsors to pony up $8000-$10,000 to keep the show going if they wanted to. Which makes me wonder if they don’t want to.
I have to be honest here. I’ve never been to a TAILGREAT. Talked about going to it. Thought about going to it. Had it on my Penn State Bucket List, so to speak. Alas, I will never have that chance, barring a change of heart by the athletic department.
Maybe attendance and interest has waned in recent years. Maybe they will come up with a new tradition that is even better. Maybe no one will even notice.
Have you ever been to a TailGreat? How do you feel about losing this gameday event?