The 2016 Sky Blue FC season starts on April 24, if you haven't been to a game before here are some game day tips! This will hopefully help you have the best game experience possible, because even though every game is fun to watch and there's a wonderful atmosphere, these will help ensure you get into the stadium quickly and see as much of the game as possible while having all the fun you can!
So, let's get started.
I definitely suggest the $5 parking lot. It's closer to the stadium, so you won't have to walk too terribly far. They do turn off the stadium lights at a certain point, and you don't have to cross the street in the dark to get to your car. Parking lots open three hours prior to kick off. Tailgating is permitted, however there are no open flames allowed (i.e. no grilling) as per Rutgers University policy. There is no one central location where tailgating takes place, but Cloud 9 usually tailgates in the VIP parking lot!
The Box Office opens two hours prior to kick off. I'd recommend that you pick up your Will Call tickets as soon as you get to the stadium; it'll help avoid lines once the gates open. Also, if you need to purchase a ticket, that can also be done at the box office. Children aged 2 and under do not need a ticket, provided they'll sit in their parent's lap for the entirety of the game. Group rates are included for a party of 20 or more.
Things to bring
When you buy your ticket, you will get an email telling you that any bag that isn't see-through can only be a certain size if you want to bring it into the stadium - and they mean it. Ignore the advice and know you will be sent back to your car to put away your policy-flouting bag away. And then you will have to get back on line to get into Yurcak field. It's a safety measure, but it also speeds the process of bag checks along like crazy. This also refers to camera bags. Feel free to bring your camera, but if your bag is too big, leave it in your car.
Posters ARE allowed, but they can't be on dowels or any kind of post. Make them manageable to carry. Don't use a full size poster board, use half. You probably won't have anything to put it in (unless you have a big clear tote bag - by all means use it!) and they get really, really cumbersome when you're carrying them around.
Gates open one hour prior to kick off. It's a good idea to use the time to get any concessions that you may want, but also check out the different tents set up. To take part in the raffle, or any other things going on at half time, you may have to buy tickets (and/or tennis balls, depending on what they're doing that game) at one of the tents. A perk of parking in the $5 lot is that you'll get a raffle ticket, just for parking! Check out the merchandise tent as well, pick up a T shirt, a scarf, a jersey, or a sweatshirt!
Once you're inside
I said this before and I'll say it again: concessions - if you're going to get them, try to get them before the game. It can get pretty crazy. They have your usual sports concessions. Hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, chips, candy: it's all there.
Beer garden? Yes, there is a beer garden. If you're over 21, they do have some alcohol (I'm assuming beer. I haven't visited the beer garden yet) available for purchase (and I think you have to stay there to drink it). Drink responsibly!
During the game
Cheer your heart out. A lot of people feel self-conscious at games when it comes to cheering, but the players hear your cheers. They love the fans. It's okay to cheer. I promise you, you won't be alone. If you want to sit around people who will be cheering at every possible opportunity, get a ticket in sections 1 or 9. On the website they're listed as "fan sections". Section 9 is also where the SBFC official fan club, Cloud 9 sits. They are pretty great! Also, familiarize yourself with the roster, and cheer for everyone, not just those who play on the National Team.
After the game
If you want evidence that the players love the fans, stick around after the game and watch them walk the railing and sign autographs. This gives you a great opportunity to interact with them. While not all the players walk the railing, ALL of the players love interaction! Talk to them. Tell them they did a great job, or whatever you'd like to say (well...not everything - keep it positive; no one likes to get yelled at immediately after finishing work).
Speaking of meeting players, every game there are two players selected for a meet and greet with fans. You can get access simply by buying a wristband - keep a look out on social media before the game to find out who the players will be! You can buy a wristband at the stadium for $5, or you can reserve them by phone and they'll make an announcement for all wristband holders to move over to where the beer garden is (which they close at a designated point in the 2nd half) for the meet and greet. Beware: you may miss part of the game!
Above all, the most important pointer I can give you is to have fun! Interact with your fellow Sky Blue supporters, you could meet a new friend, or even run into an old one! That's the wonderful thing about games, you never know who you'll meet (except if you sign up for the meet and greet, then you'll know at least two people that you'll meet)!