Bozeman vs. Ithaca

Bozeman vs. Ithaca

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Mike St. Thomas

This spring Bozeman and the Big Sky take on Ithaca, New York and the Cornell Big Red. Home to the prestigious Ivy League university and the smaller Ithaca College, the town prides itself on a hip nightlife—more restaurants per capita than New York City—and its prime location among the Finger Lakes of central New York. The towns are nearly identical in size, but does our hometown stand a chance against the elite academics of the East Coast?

College Nickname
Bozeman: Bobcats
Ithaca: Big Red

What’s up with the Ivy League? Dartmouth Big Green? Harvard Crimson? Cornell Big Red? How can a nickname be a concept? Apparently, Cornell’s “Big Red Bear” is the unofficial mascot… but why don’t they adopt it as the school nickname? Couldn’t hurt the football team, which hasn’t won an Ivy League crown in 17 years.
Edge: Bozeman

Influential TV Shows
Bozeman: Star Trek: Enterprise
Ithaca: Roots

Captain Spock or Kunta Kinte? Enterprise producer Brannon Braga can’t shake a shackle at Ithaca native Alex Haley, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Roots and the Autobiography of Malcolm X.
Edge: Ithaca

Spiritual Sites
Bozeman: The Filling Station
Ithaca: Namgyal Monastery

Hey, you try telling the Saturday-night regulars on North Rouse that they’re not in heaven. Ithaca’s Buddhist monastery, though, has been dubbed the North American Seat of the 14th Dalai Lama, so they have that going for them, which is nice. Tough call here. But the Lama’s a big hitter, so Ithaca gets it.
Edge: Ithaca

Marketed Phrases
Bozeman: The Last Best Place
Ithaca: Ithaca is Gorges

Ithaca’s clever motto went sour when it started showing up on the bumpers and bodies of people who had no connection to the town. And according to a recent Missoulian article, Mr. Potter, er, David E. Lipson, “has all but won exclusive rights” to our beloved epithet. No one wins here.
Edge: Even

Ski Hills
Bozeman: Pick one
Ithaca: The grassy slope behind Cornell’s cafeteria

Not that this category would be close, but there isn’t even a proper ski hill in Ithaca’s Tompkins County. Lake Placid’s Whiteface Mountain claims the East’s biggest vertical, but is a five-hour drive away.
Edge: Bozeman

Notable Bodies of Water
Bozeman: Gallatin, Yellowstone, Madison Rivers
Ithaca: Cayuga Lake

The longest Finger Lake is known for its superb bass fishing, but can you really compare worms to flies? Cayuga may be dandy, but it’s minor league when up against some of the best fly-fishing in the U.S.
Edge: Bozeman

Fish-Eating Restrictor
Bozeman: FWP officer
Ithaca: Toxins

Worried that Ranger Joe might ruin your plans for a Bull-trout dinner? Count your blessings. Central New York’s fish are about as healthy as Snow geese in the Berkeley Pit. As of 2004, two Finger Lakes had large-trout-consumption advisories due to high levels of PCB (an industrial-waste carcinogen) and DDT.
Edge: Bozeman

Winter
Bozeman: Cold and Sun
Ithaca: Cold and Clouds

Upstate New York winters are generally considered the most depressing this side of Siberia: nearby Binghamton ranks as the seventh-cloudiest city in the country (just behind Kalispell, interestingly). Winter days here, though often frigid, at least afford us a view of the Big Sky.
Edge: Bozeman

Named after
Bozeman: John Bozeman
Ithaca: Greek island

Not to knock our founder, but wouldn’t it be a bit cooler to be named after the homeland of an ancient Greek hero? Ol’ Johnny B. was a dashing fellow, but he doesn’t compare to Odysseus, who tricked a cyclops, outwitted gods, resisted the sirens, killed a bunch of suitors, and repeatedly escaped certain death.
Edge: Ithaca

Single-family new-house building permits (2005)
Bozeman: 337
Ithaca: 7

Apparently, the two cities won’t be similar in size for long. Considering the added boon to our economy, we might win this category if our growth wasn’t such a sprawling eyesore.
Edge: Ithaca

Movie Affiliated
Bozeman: A River Runs Through It
Ithaca: Road Trip

Though the University of Ithaca technically doesn’t exist (it’s Ithaca College) and the movie was filmed in Georgia, Road Trip’s antics are hard to beat. That is, unless the competing movie is the Oscar-nominated portrayal of the greatest story ever told.
Edge: Bozeman

Final Tally: Bozeman 5, Ithaca 4

A close match from our Empire State counterparts. Yet Bozeman does just enough to win—again. Can we be beaten?

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