Homecoming is a day when the Western bubble comes alive, teaming with students and alumni ready to turn TD Waterhouse stadium into one rowdy party. Every year Western throws the biggest party around to celebrate itself, and as anyone who's ever thrown a party knows, it ain’t cheap to throw a good party.
Where does the money come from to fund the biggest rager of the year? Students will be relieved to know that all the budgeting for Homecoming comes from the Western Alumni Association, with no expenses coming out of the University operations budget.
“We're really proud of the fact that we don't draw from university operating dollars,” said Trista Walker, executive director, alumni relations and secretary to the alumni Board of Directors. “100 per cent of what we spend as an alumni department on Homecoming is funded by the Alumni Association.”
The budget for Homecoming every year is an average of $100,000, according to Walker. Despite adding on alumni weekend to the Homecoming festivities, this year is no exception, and the budget has not increased from the $100,000 standard.
“Instead of scaling back, we looked for a sponsor,” said Walker. “We also have cost recovery opportunities. The budget isn't just expense lines, there are revenue lines there as well that help us to keep things on budget and on course.”
The tailgate lunch offered in the parking lot of TD Stadium prior to the game will be one of these opportunities to earn some revenue toward the budget. The $5 price of the lunch will go directly into the budget for Homecoming. The lunch isn’t restricted to only alumni or people going to the game; anybody is welcome to come join the parking lot party before the game. Other alumni events will have a ticket price as well to help offset the price of Homecoming. One ticket price that doesn't go back into Homecoming is the cost of the actual ticket itself — that goes right back into the athletics department.
In addition to these recovery opportunities, the alumni relations department has partners, who they share a mutually beneficial relationship with, that help with budgeting.
“We have what are called corporate or commercial affinity partners, so our big three partners are TD insurance, Manulife Financial and MBNA,” said Walker. “Not just Homecoming. All the events and activities across my whole portfolio are now funded by those three partners.”
The money spent on Homecoming goes towards brochures and marketing towards the alumni as well as for hiring photographers, additional event staff and security. Event logistics, such as tents, stages, and live music are all a big part of where the money goes. This year, there’ll be no shortage of events, despite the second Homecoming event.