More Than a Game: Holy Cross Uses Yankee Stadium Football Battle as an Opportunity to Reach New Audience

By Cristal Steuer, Senior Strategist at TVP Communications & Bridget Campolettano ’10, Integrated Marketing Manager at College of the Holy Cross

Last November, the College of the Holy Cross Crusaders played the Fordham University Rams at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, NY to compete for the 31st Ram-Crusader Cup. While the premise for this event was football, it went well beyond a game.  

On the Holy Cross campus in Worcester, MA, it was a major collaboration between athletics, advancement and alumni relations, and college marketing and communications. The College viewed the game as an opportunity to tell its story more broadly in a new market: New York City.

“The combination of the nationwide recognition of Yankee Stadium, a rivalry game against fellow Jesuit school, Fordham University, and our large alumni presence in New York presented us with an ideal opportunity to share the meaning and impact of a Holy Cross education with a new audience,” said Marisa Gregg, director of marketing and communications at Holy Cross. “We planned a weekend full of events that brought together our passionate alumni from across the country to create a visible presence in New York. We advertised the game itself and also created in-game video content to tell our story through the voices of faculty, students and alumni. [And] we garnered media attention both before and after the game.”

An announcement of the rivalry ran in more than 200 media outlets across the country including Yahoo! News, MarketWatch, and the Los Angeles Business Journal. Holy Cross administrators were on the TODAY show plaza and received on-camera coverage (the day before the game) cheering for the Crusaders. Media outlets in New York and Worcester covered the game in advance and recapped the scores in post-game coverage. The earned media value for the event was approximately $217,000.   

With a crowd of nearly 22,000 (40 percent of whom were non-Holy Cross fans), the in-game presentations were an opportunity to tell a story beyond football. Numerous videos were created to play on the Jumbotron, in the suites of the stadium, and around the concourse. One played on the College’s branding platform of "Ask More,": What big questions do you ask in your life? What do you hope for the future of Holy Cross? What does it mean to be a student-athlete at Holy Cross?

Interviewees in the videos included senior administrators (e.g. College president Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J.); prominent alumni (e.g. John Luth ’74, Seabury Group founder who, with his wife, donated $32.5 million to the College’s new athletic complex; Gordie Lockbaum ’88, a Heisman Trophy contender and vice president of Sullivan insurance group; Anne Fink ’85, CEO of PepsiCo North American Foodservice); and student-athletes (Peter Pujals '17, Luke Ford '17 and Jimmy Murray '17).

“At Holy Cross, we are always looking for ways to further enhance the experience of our student-athletes,” said Nathan Pine, the College's director of athletics. "Having the opportunity this year to play a game at Yankee Stadium is something our players will remember long after their football careers are over. It was wonderful to have so many students, faculty, administrators and alumni at the event to cheer us on.” 

The College also held numerous events during the big weekend to highlight the spirit of Holy Cross. Alumni and friends took part in a variety of activities that were both true to the College’s mission, and to the spirit of New York including: an alumni networking event; a joint service project with Fordham at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle; a tour of Carnegie Hall; a walking tour of the Multi-Ethnic Lower East Side with Ed O'Donnell '86, professor of history at Holy Cross; and Sunday morning Mass at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle.