OK, so you’ve decided you want to go to a Rutgers football game at HighPoint.com Stadium in beautiful Piscataway, New Jersey. But, you don’t know where, how, or when to go. Where can you turn for information?
I had to give it a New Jersey vibe to get it started! But seriously, there’s a lot to know. With Rutgers being the birthplace of college football and all, Scarlet Knight fans have a lot of traditions, a lot of places to see, and above all, a lot of fun to have. Whether you are a first time fan, or just have never had the opportunity to visit the stadium on game day, you’ll go home with a big ol’ pocketful of great memories.
A lot of the information I am providing is also available on the school’s Game Day website. It is well done, and you’ll see a lot of good information there.
If you don’t plan to have your own tailgate, or you’re just going to the game, you can park off campus and ride via a shuttle, which is easy. If you park anywhere in downtown New Brunswick, there are FREE buses that depart regularly beginning three hours prior to kick-off at the New Brunswick Train Station Albany Street Bus Stop (located next to the taxi cab waiting area) and return up to three hours after the game. Call 1-800-626-RIDE for more information.
If you have a parking pass for one of the University parking lots, you’ll notice they are the color of the lot in which you are able to park. Most of the information you need for parking is on the back of the parking pass. Here is a downloadable map to the parking and other information about getting to the stadium (including the Knightengale Shuttle for less-able fans), and here is an interactive map for how to get to the lot for which you have a pass. It’s important to use the route to the lot given to you, as the parking attendants and campus police will only let you get there via that particular route.
If you don’t have a parking pass, and don’t want to get one on a second-party site like Stub Hub (which partners with RU), you will have to either find someone who wants to sell their pass, park at a couple of local places (like St. George’s Church, adjacent to the stadium area) that permit parking for a fee.
Tailgating at Rutgers is a BIG deal! We here at On the Banks talk about it fairly regularly, and you’ll find that almost all of the tailgaters are friendly and welcoming, even if you are (gasp!) fans of the opposing team. On the Banks even has a ‘Tailgater of the Week’ that is named following each game, though you do have to be a Rutgers tailgate to win, to be honest. Here is an example from last season.
All of the football parking lots permit tailgating, The rules of the University are the same in every lot. I’ll give you my take after you look them over:
- Parking lots open five (5) hours prior to kickoff.
- Parking spaces are limited and tailgating must be confined to a small area around your vehicle.
- Traffic aisles and parking spaces cannot be blocked at any time. All stadium parking lots will be reserved for those attending the game.
- If you do not attend the game, you will be asked to leave the stadium parking lots at kickoff time.
- University regulations and state statutes on drug and alcohol consumption will be strictly enforced. Kegs, beer balls, tents, and canopies are not permitted in the parking lots/adjacent areas at any time.
- Charcoal must be discarded in specially marked yellow barrels located throughout the parking lots.
- Open flames other than approved grills are not permitted. Camps fires/bonfires are prohibited.
While these may seem somewhat onerous, and filled with “thou shalt not”-type of rules, my experience is there is a bit of latitude about some of them. For example, while canopies are ‘prohibited,’ there are literally hundreds of them at every game, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much, so long as it can fit in the area around your car. Anything 10’x10’ or smaller will work. Another that is lightly enforced is having to leave the lot at kickoff if you don’t attend the game. If you go in late, or leave early, you’ll always find people outside still at their tailgates. However, if you do decide to skip the game, you miss some of the pageantry that takes place in the stadium, which are noted later in this article. Finally, as long as you don’t go overboard, alcohol by those over 21 is not strictly enforced, but there are campus police patrolling the lots throughout, so be sensible about it.
Places to Go
There are several Rutgers traditions that you’ll want to see at least once. Hopefully, I can give you a rundown of some of the best. They include:
Scarlet Knight Way (between the Dark Blue and Yellow lots) is lined with food trucks as you walk the route toward the stadium from all but the Scarlet, Green, and White lots. Some are rather famous, such as the R U Hungry truck, which is the home of the famous “Fat Sandwich” which was even featured on The Food Channel’s show Man vs. Food.
Drum Line Visits
Between 2-3 hours before kickoff, the Marching Band Drum Line visits the different parking lots and gives performances. It is a great time, and yet another way to get cranked up for the game. Below is just a short take from one of their performances at the Dark Blue lot last season:
Block R Party
This is a pre-game party for those who want to have a party before the game, but don’t want to do all the work for tailgating. It’s a pre-made tailgate, with live music, a beer garden, contests, a variety food options, a Kids Zone and more at each game. The Block R Party is located directly across the street from the Gate C and Gate D entrances at the north end of the stadium. Obviously there are charges for food and drink.
The Scarlet Walk
Located in the same area near the Gate D entrance is the Scarlet Walk. Prior to each game, the Rutgers band, the Marching Scarlet Knights, gather and play several traditional Rutgers songs as the football team walks into the stadium. The walk alongside a statue commemorating the players in the first collegiate football game, played at Rutgers between Rutgers and Princeton on November 6, 1869. Players traditionally touch the foot of the statue for good luck as they walk past.
In the Stadium
You want to be in the stadium prior to kickoff, as more of the school traditions prior to each game takes place. Here are a few of them:
The Marching Scarlet Knights
The band always comes onto the field and plays some traditional Rutgers songs like “Men of Rutgers,” “The Bells Must Ring,” “Colonel Rutgers,” and of course the school’s alma mater, “On the Banks of the Old Raritan.”
“The Bells Must Ring” is the Rutgers fight song, and is played after every touchdown. In the middle of the song is a cheer that the entire stadium does. To really join in the fun, you’ll want to participate. The chant is:
R-U Rah Rah!
R-U Rah Rah!
Upstream, Red Team!
Red Team; upstream!
Rah! Rah! Rutgers, Rah!
The Knight Video
Just prior to the team taking the field, the video of the Scarlet Knight coming across campus to the stadium is shown. When he arrives at the stadium, the video goes black and you can then see the actual Scarlet Knight galloping into the stadium.
This is an older video, but it gives the flavor of the feel when the team comes onto the field, flanked by the Marching Scarlet Knights, and led by flags.
Periodically throughout the game, the stadium chants R-U, with the students chanting the “R”, and the rest of the stadium responding with the “U.” The one below was at the end of the Purdue game last season.
When it is a third down for the opposition, the Rutgers faithful play along with the song, crashing chords on imaginary heavy metal guitars as this plays in the background. It is well-known enough to even have entered the NCAA Video realm:
The Alma Mater
At th end of the game, no matter win or lose, the team gathers in the end zone in front of the student stands and sings the Alma Mater with the students. Arm-in-arm, the team, coaches and fans sing along with the band.
New for 2018
Despite traditions, there are always new things each season. For example, Rutgers fans have often been a “12th man” in games at critical points. To help that along, Rutgers Athletics is encouraging it this season with this tweet:
In Jersey, our fans are just louder.— Rutgers Scarlet Knights (@RUAthletics) August 28, 2018
That's why we're introducing THE JERSEY FACTOR.
YOU, the crowd, earn a point for each crowd disruption ⚠️ (opponent false start/timeout).
We'll cue the music (see below) & keep a tally on the game & on the year.
You ready? #GoRU pic.twitter.com/uMiLblTcbM
All of the times for games have not yet been set. This is due to the fact that all Big Ten games are televised on either network television, ESPN, Fox Sports, or BTN, and the schedule is set up to ensure they all get air time. Typical starting times for games are either 12:00 Noon, 3:30 PM, or 7:00 PM. Currently, only Texas State (September 1) and Northwestern (October 20) game times have been announced, and they are both at noon.
I hope this has given you some ideas about what game day is like with Rutgers University football. There are a lot of long-standing traditions, and those traditions are the stuff of the grandeur of college football. If you’ve been to games in the past, I hope this has sparked some great memories. If you’ve never been, I hope this sparks your interest enough to want to visit. If you do, be sure to stop by to visit us in the Green Lot prior to the game. We have a 30’ flagpole, and it’s the only one with a New York State flag flying below the Rutgers flag! (I live in New York, hence the flag). Don’t know what that looks like? Here you go:
Enjoy the season, and your time at Rutgers!