Frequently Asked Questions

Since 1999, we have enjoyed the Virginia Gold Cup in the festive camaraderie of alumni and friends. For the benefit of those with interest in attending, as well as our new and returning guests, we have included some frequently asked questions and answers below.

General FAQ

Who organizes University Row?
University Row is managed by the Alumni Events Alliance and participating Anchor and Tent Partner groups. AEA is a non-profit, non-stock Virginia corporation run solely by volunteers without financial compensation. Any revenue collected by Anchors in excess of costs will inure to the benefit of their non-profit alumni missions, including scholarships. Profiteering from the University Row effort is forbidden by compact.

How is University Row set up?
University Row is a large event within an event – The Virginia Gold Cup Races.  Now in its 90th Running, The Virginia Gold Cup course is divided into several areas: North Rail, South Rail, and Members Hill. North Rail is home to University Row and has been the liveliest area of the course since the Races moved to Great Meadow in 1985. University Row tents are directly across the course from Members Hill, rounding out the accessible “horseshoe” portion of Great Meadow Park.

Popular FAQ

What is this, exactly? I mean, it sounds fun, but what am I paying for if I buy a University Row ticket?

  • We partner with our sponsor bars/restaurants to provide guests with discounted breakfast and drink specials at our registration locations.
  • We provide guests with multiple catered food buffets throughout race day.
  • We offer six and a half hours of premium bar service to our guests, including liquor, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverage options.
  • We partner with area vendors to provide you with a Best Dressed Contest complete with high-end prizes and gift certificates to valued merchants.
  • We partner with an area social sports league to provide you with lawn games on the Row.
  • We offer three transportation options for sale, including two chartered transportation options, to help you conveniently get to the alumni tent party.
  • We offer an after party at each chartered transportation drop-off location with happy hour specials upon your return from University Row.
  • We partner with 50-90 universities, schools and organizations annually to bring alumni from over 180 schools to University Row.

I know Gold Cup hosts thousands annually, but how many people attend University Row?
This year we will have capacity to accommodate roughly 1,200 guests on the Row, which is a combined alumni tent party space along the Gold Cup rails.

My friends are going to Gold Cup already.  Can they visit me at University Row or who has access to the Row?
Guests with a University Row ticket and corresponding wristband are able to access all University Row tents. Tickets are sold in the weeks leading up to Gold Cup; once we are sold out, that’s it. Ticket sales are not allowed anywhere on the grounds of Great Meadow Park. Our policy is to expel anyone who assists crashers, including paid guests.

Are there chairs at University Row, or can I bring one?
Yes, there are chairs at University Row, however, to keep furniture rental costs and your ticket price down, we order very limited seats.  The primary purpose of the chair order is to assist guests with seating as they dine. You are welcome to bring a folding lawn chair or other personal folding chair to the Row if you want to ensure your seating for the day.  Storage is also made available under the buses for our guests as they load.

Do I ride the same bus to and from the Row?
While you might, it is not guaranteed.  What is guaranteed is that those with DC registration will only be allowed on DC buses and only those with Ballston registration will be allowed on Ballston buses.  It is advised that you please keep your personal items in your possession, somewhere or with someone you trust, or near you at all times.

To get on the bus, by what time do I have to register?
Each bus pickup point has different closing times – please go to our registration page for more info. Please arrive early (recommend arriving by 9am), register and enjoy the breakfast specials until your bus departure zone begins loading.

Tickets FAQ

How do I purchase a ticket to University Row?
See universityrow.org/tickets to purchase your ticket from the tent affiliated with your alma mater.  Tickets are made available to you through the financial and volunteer investments of alumni chapters throughout the Washington Metropolitan region.

My alumni chapter is not taking part in University Row this year. Does that mean I cannot attend?
Being a member of one of the participating alumni chapters is not a requirement for attending University Row.  Buy your ticket through a friend’s alumni tent or the tent most closely affiliated with your university, be it by region, athletic conference, religious affiliation or the like.

Can I sell my ticket to University Row?
Tickets may not be transferred without the knowledge of the AEA, and anyone attempting to do so is not only at risk of forfeiting admission to the event but will not receive compensation. If you exchange your ticket with a friend or interested alumni party at cost, it is up to you and that party to contact us at info@universityrow.org and note the exchange to ensure a smooth registration or check-in process on race day.  Please note, however, that scalping is not allowable and illegal.  See our University Row Policies page for more information.

What types of tickets are available?
We sell three types of tickets: Tent-Bus,Tent-Only, and Car passes. Tent-Bus tickets provide access to University Row and include round-trip bus transportation from Ballston or DC. Tent-Only tickets provide access to University Row, however, they do not include admission to Great Meadow Park. You will need to obtain a North Rail Car Pass or other vehicle pass to enter before proceeding to University Row at the Virginia Gold Cup.

Why are sales separated by tent?
Each participating school joins the Row to leverage bulk purchasing power to bring its alumni guests access to an all-inclusive ticket to Gold Cup.  As schools invest in the event financially to host its alumni within the University Row space, we separate sales by tent to accommodate access to a wide array of alumni from varying schools.  To learn more about this, see our About University Row page.

This year, each of our tents will be allotted:

  • 105 Tent/Bus tickets (includes bus transportation from Ballston or DC to Great Meadow and admission to University Row)
  • 10 Tent-Only tickets (provides only admission to University Row, no transportation included)
  • 4 Parking passes (which do not include admission to University Row)

Transportation FAQ

How does bus transportation to the Virginia Gold Cup through University Row work?
We offer busing from four pickup locations in DC and Arlington to University Row, in a combined ticket with tent access. There are no reserved buses or seats for either location; thus, seating is on a “first come, first served” basis. Prompt compliance will help get the bus in motion, as buses at the front of the queue will be the first to leave.

For guests leaving from a Hub point (A-Town in Ballston or MadHatter in DC), boarding will be done in zones based on when you register.  You cannot board a bus until your zone has been called; however, you can board a later zone.  For example, a Zone 1 bus pass holder can choose to wait until Zone 4 to board a bus for departure. Spoke pickup points will be a little more relaxed on this, but these buses will leave a little earlier, so be prepared!

When boarding buses at University Row in the afternoon, please make sure you board the correct bus. Each bus will be labeled according to pickup location, and your wristbands will be your ticket on to the appropriate bus.  You cannot switch bus locations going or coming from the Row.  Departing buses will not leave Great Meadow Park until completely filled to ensure that no one is left behind.

Please help us get you and all guests home safely by being courteous and respectful of your driver and fellow guests.

Can I drink alcohol on the bus?
Yes, you can drink on the bus en route to Gold Cup. While alcohol is allowed at Gold Cup within Great Meadow Park, you cannot enter the University Row tent party with your beverages.  Please finish consumption prior to attempting to enter.

You may also not exit University Row with any beverages when leaving the Row in the afternoon.

I have a car pass to Gold Cup. Will that admit me to University Row?
No.  You must also purchase a tent-only pass to enter the alumni party.

Race Day FAQ

What time does Gold Cup start?
University Row opens at 11:00am sharp – early arrivals will not be able to get in. For more details about the past year’s schedule, take a look at our race day schedule.  The 2016 event information will be available soon, and it will also be emailed to ticket buyers in advance of race day.

What is the weather typically like on race day?
The first Saturday of May at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains is usually a day of strong sunshine. By Virginia standards, early May humidity is usually mild and is further softened by a light breeze slipping through the foothills. It is usually a few degrees cooler at The Plains than in Arlington, but race day weather does vary from year to year and even throughout the day, and we advise you to be prepared for temperature swings, wind, rain, and sun with intense UV. University Row is open, rain or shine.

What should I wear to University Row?
From the Virginia Gold Cup Association: “Afternoon dress is suggested for this event. Women guests on Members Hill customarily wear summer/spring dresses and hats. Flat heels are suggested. Men wear lightweight sport coats and ties. We recommend a sportswear look for women and khakis for men.”

More insight on “proper” attire can be found here on our website.

What are the food & drink options for 2016?

We pride ourselves on offering a wide array of food & beverage options throughout the entire day for all guests. the 2016 menu has not been released yet, but please check out the 2015 menu to give you a better idea of what you can expect!

I am gluten free / vegetarian. What are my options?

We’ve worked very hard with our caterer, R&R Catering to provide options for all attending University Row. Take a look at the menu for 2015. Guests with dietary restrictions not addressed are invited to bring their own meal & snacks.

I know that there are some tents that have their bathrooms outside of their fenced area. Where are University Rows bathrooms located?

Our bathrooms are for the exclusive access of our guests and are located along our fenced area within the Row!