This weekend, Penn Athletics will host the first of four fan fests to be held before basketball and football hames over the course of the year.

Credit: George Bedford , George Bedford

This weekend, for the first of four times, Penn Athletics will be hosting a fan fest before a sporting event. On Saturday at 1 PM, before Penn football kicks off against Columbia at 3 PM, Shoemaker Green will play host to students, alumni and fans as the Quakers try to build hype around former Penn coach Al Bagnoli’s return to Franklin Field. The event will be co-sponsored by the Daily Pennsylvanian.

In addition to Saturday’s game, there are fan fests planned for the Penn-Harvard football game as well as the Villanova and Princeton basketball games. The basketball fan fests will take place inside Hutchinson Gymnasium.

On Saturday, there will be inflatables, a Philly phancave and a DJ to keep fans entertained. A photo booth will be on hand as well, in addition to a series of vendors that will be selling food and drinks. This also includes alcoholic beverages, which will be available to students over the age of 21 in a set-up located on the green just next to David Rittenhouse Laboratory.

“We decided to start small and hopefully show some successes and be able to grow it over time. ... The thought is to have multigenerational events,” Penn athletic director Grace Calhoun said. “So hopefully we’ll have a strong student turnout, but we’re also encouraging alums to attend.”

Although the purpose of the event is to celebrate around the current Penn squad, there will be history on display as well.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Quakers’ Rose Bowl appearance — where the Red and Blue were defeated by Oregon, 14-0, on Jan. 1, 1916. To commemorate that game, the Rose Bowl trophy will be displayed next to Penn’s Heisman Trophy and fans will have the chance to take a photo with the two awards.

Those concerned about having to make the trek down to Franklin Field needn’t worry. Penn Athletics will have a shuttle running between Allegro and Shoemaker Green — working to eliminate any excuse students have to not come down.

“Pride is really high at Penn,” Calhoun said. “I think people are really thrilled to be here, they value the experience, they know it’s a world-class university. But the sense of spirit has been very low.”

The effort to drive students to this event is the result of research done over the course of the last year by Penn Athletics. As the department has undergone a brand refresh, it has also tapped into the student body to look at the relationship of the sports teams to the Penn community at large.

“We want to do our part to create a sense of spirit,” she added. “We’ve always felt strongly that college athletics presents opportunities for shared experiences and we know that through shared experiences, you have a better chance of higher spirit.”

While Saturday’s festivities represent a trial balloon, they are an important one. As Penn Athletics continues to test the waters and work to bridge the gap between sports and the rest of campus, events such as this will serve as effective signposts an just how successful those efforts continue to be.

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