In 2016, University Row will be celebrating its 18th season, and it remains the place to see and be seen. This year’s University Row will host 10 tents and alumni from over 70 local chapters, totaling over 1,000 guests, making it one of the largest inter-alumni social events in the Mid-Atlantic region. University Row is where DC’s finest watch the races… and where they mingle with fetching women in sundresses and dapper men in pastels. This year’s Row will build upon last year, with our expanded space across from Members Hill, along with new transportation and catering partners.
Informally organized in 1999 by William & Mary, James Madison University, and the University of Virginia, University Row started as a string of three adjacent tents hosting independent events. Within two years, the event grew to host over 900 alumni and friends. The Capital Alumni Network greatly increased its active organizational assistance to the effort, and this helped affect rapid growth. A total of seven tents were anchored by the local alumni chapters of the College William and Mary, James Madison University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Purdue, Wake Forest University, and the University of Texas. This confederation of tents was not only the largest CAN event, it was the biggest single gathering in the history of the Virginia Gold Cup.
In 2005, University Row became a project of the Alumni Events Alliance, a Virginia nonprofit organization, with day to day operations managed by the University Row Steering Committee (URSC). The URSC is typically made up of representatives of Anchor alumni clubs who make a financial investment into the event. Since then, University Row has been officially recognized and assisted by the Virginia Gold Cup Association. The Washington Post recognized the Row as “the primary social area” along the North Rail. We’ve continued to set new records in a number of categories, including sponsorship, alumni group recruitment, press coverage, and sales. Historically, we sell out within weeks of the race.
All tickets to University Row provide access to our exclusive tent area, our quality buffet, an open bar with premium liquor, beer, and wine selections, and of course, the races themselves. Most tickets also include your luxury transportation to and from the Row. Since we treat all our guests like VIP’s, University Row provides the best value at the Virginia Gold Cup!
– Full open bar, with premium liquor and beer
– Multiple full buffet menus
– All volunteer, alumni club driven event
– Best Dressed Contest
– Best Hat Contest
All University Row Anchor tents offer their hospitality on a reciprocal basis to all other Row participants—so no matter which group has invited you, you are welcome throughout the entire enclosed area! And guests who did not attend any of the sponsoring groups are also encouraged to attend.
Picket fencing allows us to have a “common terrace” area in front of the Row, as well as a “common rail” area between the North Rail and each tent. Furthermore, the fence and off-duty police also enhance our private security, allowing our guests to enjoy themselves without the overcrowding caused by those lovable, but unwelcome crashers.
University Row guests enjoy a catered lunch buffet. Beverages are in easy reach of every tent and are available to all throughout the space. University Row tents are served by a catering staff of over 40 seasoned event specialists.
University Row features the most space per guest of any remotely-comparable gathering along North Rail. Unlike groups that cram more than 3 busloads of people into each tent area to lower costs and maximize profit, we limit crowd density to about 115 people per tent and terrace space. This translates into a more enjoyable experience for all: More room to eat; more space to roam; and less jostling of elbows and tempers. And, while the Virginia Gold Cup is listed as a “rain-or-shine event”, it is significantly more enjoyable when the sun is shining—so a little extra space is helpful in the event of inclement weather.
Guests of Anchors participating in the University Row bus pool can arrive at our designated departure point at any time with a window of about an hour and a half. They may linger and enjoy drinks and light breakfast fare and catch one of the final buses. Or they may board the next bus and leave for The Plains as soon as the bus is filled.
University Row is a 100% volunteer-run effort and has no profit motive to feed. Tents are sponsored and managed by officially-chartered non-profit alumni groups, with help from the central steering committee of the Alumni Events Alliance. A strict standard of ethics binds all who participate as Anchors or Tent Partners. Guests are invited at the discretion of tent organizers.
See you at the Races!