Bethune-Cookman Football Season-Opener Moved to Daytona Beach
May 4, 2007
(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) The season-opening game for the 2007 edition of Bethune-Cookman University football, scheduled for Sat., Sept. 1, will not take place as a part of the proposed 54th Annual Gateway Classic in Jacksonville, Fla. It has been rescheduled for a regular home game at the alternate site of Daytona Beach’s Municipal Stadium at Larry Kelly Field for a 4 p.m. kickoff.
The first-ever football match-up between two long-standing institutions in the state of Florida—Bethune-Cookman and Jacksonville University, was much-anticipated for the Gateway Classic. But, due to reasons beyond the control of either school, the Labor Day weekend game was forced to be moved from Municipal Stadium [formerly Alltel Stadium] in Jacksonville to Daytona Beach.
“We were recently notified by our long-time partners in the Gateway Classic, the Jacksonville Sports and Entertainment Board, that they did not have the funds allocated to sponsor this event much like they have for the past several years,” explained B-CU Director of Athletics, Lynn W. Thompson.
Unlike previous years where the Jacksonville Municipal Stadium was made available at no charge for the annual Gateway Classic, the current estimate of fees has been set at up to $130,000. Given the fact that the projected ticket sales is 8,000, the Gateway Classic Planning Committee determined that this arrangement would result in a deficit and would also negate the university’s Stewardship Covenant which is intended to provide revenue for students and the institution. Bethune-Cookman University President Dr. Trudie Kibbe Reed states: “We would like to revisit the Jacksonville location in the future if we can arrange for support to cover stadium charges.”
“While we certainly appreciate the support that they have provided for previous Gateway Classics, it is not fiscally prudent for the university to take a home game away from Daytona Beach without a guarantee of support to cover the enormous amount required to play in a world-class facility like Jacksonville’s Municipal Stadium. We look forward to continuing the dialogue with civic and corporate leaders in Jacksonville to resume our longstanding tradition of playing in such a great town,” added Thompson.
Jackie Mongal—Bethune-Cookman University National Alumni Association President, knows people will be concerned about the move, but hopes fans and alumni will embrace the move and be happy to visit Volusia County over the Labor Day weekend.
“In view of the recent developments, it would not be financially sound for the university to go forward with the game in Jacksonville at this time, but we hope to continue dialogue with the stakeholders in Jacksonville to bring the game back in 2008,” stated Mongal.
In last year’s Gateway Classic—the 53rd edition of the Labor Day weekend football festival for the Wildcats, was played between Southern (La.) University and B-CU. An announced crowd of 23,241 saw the Jaguars of Southern use a late touchdown to defeat the ‘Cats by a score of 30-29.