Hello! I want to bring you up to date on the preparations for Uni Watch’s 25th universary (UW25) next May.
As you may recall, I recently proposed that we have a big UW25 blowout party here in NYC, complete with live music from hockey-rock band the Zambonis and lots of fun activities, with the caveat that I’d need 150 to 200 people to attend in order to fill the room and would have to charge a $20 admission fee in order to cover my costs. So last week I asked you folks to let me know if you’d be willing to attend, just so I could get a rough sense of the head count.
I heard from lots of people who said they were totally on board (thank you!). Unfortunately, though, the response was not strong enough to make the party viable. Even though I only put out the call for a week, I’ve done enough merch projects and conducted enough raffles over the years to know how to gauge the overall response based on the first few days. And based on the initial response, it’s clear to me that doing a blowout event in Brooklyn on May 26 isn’t going to work.
In retrospect, that’s not really so surprising. Traveling to NYC is expensive, food and lodging in NYC are expensive, and the date of the universary is in the middle of a holiday weekend. A lot of people told me, “I’d love to be there, and I’ll definitely be there in spirit, but I just can’t make it work in person.” That’s totally understandable.
There were also some people who said, “I can’t make it, but I’d love to contribute some funds to help cover the expenses.” That’s very generous (thank you!), but even if all my costs were covered, it would still be a downer to rent a big space and not fill it up, like attending a game at a half-empty stadium.
However … I still want to celebrate UW25, so I’ve been thinking that if you folks can’t come to me, I’ll come to you! I hereby propose the following “Plan B”:
- In the week or so leading up to May 26, I’ll go on a “UW25 tour,” which will consist of Uni Watch gatherings in three or four cities spread out across the country. These will not be super-duper blowout parties with a live band or an admission charge. They’ll just be your basic Uni Watch meet-and-greets at bars, like I’ve been doing for many years, but with a UW25 theme.
- Since Purp Walk takes place on May 17 — nine days before the universary — I’ll probably try to fold that into the tour. So one of the parties will be a combined Purp/UW25 gathering.
- The UW25 tour will conclude with a finale in NYC on May 26 — the official universary date. This will probably be at a small rock club with the Zambonis playing. (More on that in a minute.)
- I’ll ask the Uni Watch comm-uni-ty to chip in to cover my travel expenses.
I think this approach has a bunch of advantages over the original plan, the biggest of which is that more readers will likely be able to participate. In addition, most people probably won’t have to travel as far, and the dates won’t fall on a holiday (except for the final gathering in NYC). Hell, maybe we’ll even get some tour groupies who follow me around the country and attend every gathering!
Let’s shift into FAQ mode:
If you do this, which three or four cities would you choose?
I’d probably do something like the the NCAA Final Four regions — East, South, Midwest, and West. Obviously, there are lots of possibilities for cities in each of those regions, but we have plenty of time to figure out the details.
How much time?
I’d aim to have the cities and dates nailed down sometime between mid-February and mid-March. (By contrast, if we were doing the big blowout party in NYC, I felt some pressure to get the space rented soon, because event spaces tend to get booked pretty far in advance here in Fun City — lots of weddings, bar mitzvahs, quinceañeras, and so on.)
How will you combine Purp Walk with the UW25 tour?
I’d want one of the gatherings to take place on May 17 — that’s the traditional day for Purp Walk — in a city with a purple-clad team. There are plenty of options for that: Baltimore (Ravens), Minneapolis (Vikings), Los Angeles (Lakers), Phoenix (Suns), Sacramento (Kings), Chicago (Northwestern), Ft. Worth (TCU), Seattle (U. of Washington), and so on.
Your original blowout party concept included the Zambonis. So how will the NYC finale “at a small rock club with the Zambonis playing” be any different than the blowout plan that you’ve now scrapped?
The original plan would’ve been for a private Uni Watch party where I rented the space for our exclusive use. After talking with Zambonis frontman Dave Schneider, I’m now thinking the band can just get themselves booked at a NYC club for May 26 (we have a few venue options in mind) and we’ll just invite Uni Watch readers to attend the show. There will probably be other bands on the bill that will have nothing to do with Uni Watch, and other people in the club who will no doubt be confused by the presence of so many jersey-clad people, but whatever — it should be a fun UW25/Zambonis collaboration, and a fun way to cap off the UW25 tour.
But since it won’t be a private event, I won’t have to pay to rent out the club, I won’t have to guarantee a certain amount of bar sales, I won’t have to pay the band (the club will do that). Much easier from a logistical perspective.
How much will all of this cost?
I’ll try to come up with a tentative travel budget once we settle on the dates and cities, but I figure it’ll probably be a couple of thousand dollars when you add up the airfare, lodging, meals, local car service, and incidentals. Personally, I think it feels more comm-uni-tarian to have people chip in to cover the costs of bringing me out on the road to see all of you folks, instead of covering the expenses for renting a space and paying a band. I’m hoping enough people out there agree.
Have you ever asked for readers to cover your travel costs before?
Yes. In the fall of 2019, I wanted to go to San Diego so I could cover the Padres’ uniform unveiling in person. I was no longer working for ESPN or Sports Illustrated, so I made a budget — it added up to $1,000 — and asked the readers if they’d be willing to chip in. I set a $50 contribution ceiling, because I wanted it to be a true comm-uni-ty effort (instead of having one or two deep-pocketed sugar daddies covering the full tab). I allowed a week for us to meet the funding goal; we ended up meeting it in about two hours, which was amazing.
What if you don’t meet the UW25 funding goal?
Then I’ll just do the Zambonis thing here in NYC on May 26, which will still be fun.
If you do a gathering in my city, you can stay at my house. That would cut down on expenses!
I greatly appreciate this type of offer. But between all the travel and all the glad-handing, I expect this trip to be somewhat exhausting, so I may need some down time in hotels, just so I can clear my head, decompress, and not have to be “on” all the time. Anyway, no need to decide that now — we’ll see how things develop.
Will you have UW25 merch?
Yes, we’ll have a logo and will make some fun items available. Also, if we go ahead with the UW25 tour, I’m thinking we could have a tour T-shirt with the dates and cities on the back, just like a rock band’s tour T-shirt!
I think that’s it for now. Feedback welcome, of course. Sorry about the moving target, and thanks for bearing with me!