Homecoming takes one step back in magnitude

Chubby’s nightclub didn’t move outdoors but one look at Wahnish Way after the Rattlers’ resounding 50-14 victory over Savannah State University Saturday afternoon, and things would have appeared that way.

Although hundreds of people celebrated FAMU’s tenth homecoming victory in a row, one thing was evident in the eyes of students, alumni and everyone involved with the game. The attendance at events, and the crowd waiting for their “let out,” was not as big for this year’s homecoming as in years past.

LaJoy Mecer, 21, a student senator and senior business administration student from Nashville, Tenn., said two things are responsible for the lack of student attendance at events this week.

Mercer said one reason was the ticket distribution system was not communicated well enough to the student body with the other being the amount of tickets allotted to students not being enough to satisfy the number of students interested.

Although the announced crowd of 24,163 at Saturday’s game was not a sellout or as large as in years past, Assistant Athletic Director for Internal Operations Braun Cartwright was pleased with the success of FAMU’s homecoming.

Because homecoming is obviously not the average game for the Rattler faithful Cartwright, as well as the FAMU physical plant, worked endlessly for the past two weeks getting the campus and facilities ready for such a large reunion of Rattlers.

“During homecoming we have put in extra man hours, beef security and are on the ball, ready for anything that happens,” said Cartwright.

Security, which uses 105 law enforcement officers for regular home football games, was increased to 140 officers. Members of the Tallahassee Police Department, Leon County Sheriff’s Department, Department of Transportation and Barkley Security all assisted the FAMU Police Department in securing the game.

Another reason for extra security was because of the situation at FAMU’s 2003 homecoming game, when the University oversold tickets forcing some who paid to not have a place to sit.

To alleviate the problem, FAMU switched ticketing systems, selling all non-student tickets through TicketMaster and leaving the East side of the stadium to general admission seating.

“Although the revenue is important we want to make sure everyone who paid $ 35 gets a good experience,” said Cartwright. “We knew that (at) homecoming people aren’t here for just football, homecoming at FAMU can be counted as an experience, not just a football game.”

While the numbers won’t be available for a few more days, Cartwright said the school is not expecting to make as much from gate receipts and concession sales as last year.

In 2003 the University made approximately $60,000 from concession sales alone.

To further demonstrate the expected difference between concession sales, Sharla Givens, who has been a concessionaire for the past five years, had time to conduct a 10- minute interview whereas in years past she said she would be ‘knee-deep’ in customers.

Givens said that for the first two home games her stand’s sales have been down between 30 and 40 percent with the possibility of a larger percentage of revenue loss for homecoming.

Djiby Makhou has been a vendor in or around Bragg Memorial Stadium for the past 10 years; he blames the economy for what he said is his worst sales year ever.

“People still like stuff, but they are not spending money like they used to,” Makhou said.

Despite the apparent step backward in terms of sheer magnitude Kenny Strong, a 1978 graduate from Lakeland, still enjoys coming to homecoming.

Contact Will Brown at wwbrown19@yahoo.com.

“I think this is one of the best homecomings, I really wish every