at the beginning of the Hockey Line

The Hockey Line is a long standing (no pun intended) tradition at RPI.  When and why did it start?  Before 1972, student tickets rotated through sections on the North and West sides during the season so that everyone had a chance to sit in the best seats on the North side.  Brace poles, in place until 1983, obstructed the view from some sections.  In 1972, about 900 seats in sections H and K were sold on a first come, first served basis.  The remaining sections continued to rotate.  Students lined up in the Rathskellar about 12 hours in advance to purchase these tickets.  I suppose you could call this a prequel to the Hockey Line.

A huge controversy ensued the following year, 1973, when several different season ticket plans were proposed and shot down in one way or another.  A proposal was finally approved by the Student Senate and E-board in late October.  The plan included an “unlimited sale of season tickets in the North Grandstand and the elimination of the rotation system.” [see Poly article, left]  This opened up 2100 season seats to students on a first come, first serve basis.  Tickets went on sale at 9 a.m. on October 29th in the Rathskellar.  Students began lining up on October 25th — waiting in line in the Rath during the day and sleeping outside the Union at night.

The line was officially moved to the outside of the Union in 1975 and a sign-up sheet was kept by the GM and PU to ensure that groups were maintaining their place in line.  The line could not technically begin until the Student Senate approved the sale date and guidelines, but that didn’t stop groups from forming the line earlier and earlier each year.  The competition to be the first in line (and thus start the line) was fierce.  An independent group attempted to start the line early one morning in 1976 and were allegedly attacked by some frat brothers who threw eggs and hosed water at them.  Eventually, rules were instituted to govern the formation of the line, registration of groups, ID requirements, temporary shelters, etc.

George Low visited the hockey line during his first semester as president in 1976 and in subsequent years he began the practice of serving breakfast to participants.

Memories? Questions? Reactions? — Leave a comment!!

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7 Responses to at the beginning of the Hockey Line

  1. Eric Maiwald says:

    But the record for hockey line began after the NCAA win in the 1985-86 season! I remember that we came back from Detroit (I was with the Pep Band) and some of the brothers from Psi Upsolon (Al Mattedi is the name that comes to mind – he was also a trumpet player in the band) started the line then and there. I believe they kept it up all summer and right up until tickets went on sale.

    • amythearchivist says:

      That’s right Psi Upsilon holds the record for the longest wait in the hockey line — 170+ days (the exact number of days varies depending on the source!) in 1985 following the 1985 NCAA Championship win (that would have been the 1984-1985 season).

  2. Eric Maiwald says:

    That just goes to show how my memory fades as the years go by! Thanks for the correction on the year!

  3. Stephen Davis says:

    I remember how the rotation system worked when I was an undergraduate frome 1963 to 1967. Students formed groups. For example a fraternity would be a group or a collection of independents would form a group such as a dorm group or a Poly group. Each group was guaranteed tickets for a percentage of the number of people in the group. The seats for each game would rotate through the arena. The groups would decide how to distribute tickets within the group. If a student had a date, it would require two tickets.

    Over all this seemed like a fair system. Why did it change?

    • amythearchivist says:

      It apparently boiled down to financial gain through increased ticket sales. In 1973, all the seats in the north grandstand sold as season tickets. The west side was available for individual ticket purchases. Proponents of the new seating plan also pointed out that the rotation system inevitably put people in bad seats when good seats were available.

  4. I remember the record setting Psi-U hockey line very well – I was one of the Student Senators who checked the line that summer to make sure that the appropriate number of people were actually in line (1 person could hold 8 spots, line was checked every 8 hours, if there weren’t the right number of people for a group they had 10 minutes to get the missing people or they got booted to the back of the line). I actually met Al Mattedi while checking the line – the ever enterprising Psi-U brothers had brought out a wading pool to keep cool and Al decided it would be fun to splash me. We stayed friends for a long time after that.

  5. Pierre Langevin class of 85 says:

    1984-85 season bring great memories….. almost 25 years ago !!!!

    Pierre Langevin

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