For decades, fans of the Ithaca College football program have referred to the annual Cortaca Jug game against SUNY Cortland as “The Biggest Little Game in America.” In 2019, they’ll have a chance to help turn that moniker into a reality.
At the annual Cortaca Jug press conference on Wednesday, Nov. 7, Susan Bassett, associate vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports at Ithaca College, announced that the 2019 game will be played on Nov. 16 just eight miles outside of New York City at MetLife Stadium, home of the NFL’s New York Jets and Giants.
The move takes a game that is contested annually on campuses just 21 miles apart into one of the biggest professional football stadiums in the country. And with good reason. While Cortaca typically draws around 10,000 fans each year, the two schools have a more ambitious goal for 2019: breaking the all-time NCAA Division III attendance record of 37,355 fans, set in 2017 by the University of St. Thomas and St. John’s University. That game was played at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins.
Ithaca has approximately 17,000 alumni in the greater New York City area. Sam Gelman ’13, president of the metro New York regional chapter of the Ithaca College Alumni Association, has seen first-hand how passionate they are about the rivalry.
“There’s so much excitement and energy around Cortaca, it really becomes ‘Cortaca Day’ for a lot of people,” Gelman said. “The move to MetLife is awesome, and it’s going to draw fans from all over the country.”
The game will also provide a chance for many players to compete in front of friends and family from the area. “I grew up 15 minutes from MetLife, so this is a dream come true for me,” said wide receiver Andrew Vito ’21. “I’ve got younger siblings, and my parents can’t always come to the games here, so they’re already planning for this. It’s a testament to how passionate this rivalry is.”