For the first time in program history, Harvard football will host two night games next season.
The Crimson will face off against Dartmouth at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29, moving the game from its originally-scheduled noon start. It will be just the sixth time that Harvard has played football under the lights at home, and it will mark the inaugural night game between schools that first played each other in 1882.
The Big Green’s visit will also be the first time that the Crimson has played a home night game other than the home opener, and the first such game not played in September.
Since lights were added to Harvard Stadium in early 2007, the Crimson has hosted one night game every season. Harvard has never lost at home at under the lights, sitting on a 4-0 record going into the 2011 season.
But in addition to the program’s success on the field, night games have also boosted attendance and student interest. Since 2007, the night game is generally the best- or second-best attended contest on the home schedule, depending on whether The Game is played in Allston or New Haven.
In 2010, the Crimson drew an average of 16,918 fans. Last year’s night game, the home opener against Holy Cross, drew 21,704. In 2009, when Harvard’s average attendance was 10,701, the night game against Brown brought 17,263 fans to the stadium.
Average annual attendances fluctuate wildly for both Harvard and Yale depending on the host of The Game, which draws tens of thousands more fans than other contests on the schedule.
This season’s Dartmouth game is also just the third Saturday night game at home in Crimson program history. On two other occasions, night games were moved from Friday to Saturday to avoid conflicting with Yom Kippur.
While the matchup is a historic one for Harvard, it carries even more significance for Dartmouth. The Oct. 29 Ivy League contest is Dartmouth’s first-ever night game.