Nebraska’s gameday tradition of fans releasing helium-filled red balloons to celebrate the Cornhuskers’ first touchdown is ending, at least for the coming season.
The tradition of passing out balloons to fans dates to the early 1960s.
Athletic director Trev Alberts announced on his radio show that a global shortage of helium led to the decision.
Russia is one of the top helium suppliers and Alberts said U.S. sanctions in response to the war in Ukraine have caused a shortage.
Alberts said university leaders want the helium that would have been used in the balloons to go to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for medical use.
Alberts, an All-American linebacker at Nebraska in the early 90s, said the athletic department — especially its marketing team — is looking into alternatives, including potential digital graphics on the stadium’s video boards to keep the tradition alive.
The tradition has been the subject of environmental concerns for years and the UNL student government in 2020 unanimously supported a resolution encouraging the end of the releases.
The Husker football survey of fans in January gave the balloon a 5.4 out of 7 satisfaction rating in the Gameday Experience category, but that was toward the bottom of the list.