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You can almost hear the crowd roar…
Now may not yet seem like the time to talk football. But if you are planning on coming up for a game in the fall, you should be buying your tickets and looking to book your hotel fairly soon, especially for the more popular opponents coming to The Swamp.
I have been going to Gator football games since I was a student. (Not to mention my age here, but I already have two daughters that graduated UF – 2014 and 2019). I know which opponents are the big rivalries (did I mention LSU, Tennessee, and Kentucky?) and which games should be sleepers. (Okay, we won’t count the time that the Gators almost lost to Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns…) A Gator home game is an experience, from the pre-gaming (ask your college student), to the Gator Walk (2 hours and 25 minutes prior to each home game when fans line the north end of the stadium to cheer on the team as they enter the stadium for that day’s game), to the actual game itself. See, it really is a good thing you’ve started prepping now!
Tickets on Sale NOW!
Let me say that again: season tickets are on sale now. If your plan is to come up for a game to visit your student, you’ll want to book your hotel now, too. Some are already sold out. When looking for a hotel, prepare for some sticker shock. You will notice that the rates are sometimes double what you would pay for a weekend with no events. Single-game tickets have not yet gone on sale, but should be available shortly.
HaveUHeard that a new app, Florida Gators App, was launched last August and manages UF’s online football ticket system? Fans are now able to connect their Ticketmaster account to the app. This allows fans the opportunity to store their tickets (season, package, or single-game) on the app and enter Ben Hill Griffin Stadium using their phone. Student tickets are exclusively digital, with the plan for all tickets going digital sometime in 2020. Once in the stadium, fans will be able to store credit card information on the app, so cash or a physical credit card won’t be necessary if a fan desires a cashless experience at concession stands. In addition to tickets and concessions, the app offers other in-stadium benefits for fans, like purchasing ‘Swamp Moments’ (i.e. video board messages), seat upgrades, or exclusive events.
Unless you entered the lottery for the 2020 football season (which opens in January of each calendar year), you will not be able to get a room at The Reitz Union during a football weekend. (Note to self for next January…) Those who have entered will find out the lottery results in mid-May. Read our blog about the Reitz Union lottery here.
Game Day Stays
Almost every hotel in Gainesville requires anywhere from 30-60 day cancellation during a football weekend, as opposed to the 24-hour cancellation when it is not a high demand weekend. (High demand weekends also include graduation weekends.)
Football weekends are a big deal, especially with Florida’s strong alumni base and national appeal. And our Gators have been playing well, so you will likely see ESPN’s College GameDay broadcast at least once from campus. That broadcast often includes UF’s most famous quarterback, Tim Tebow, back in Gainesville and wearing orange and blue…without shoulder pads.
As reigning Orange Bowl Champions, expectations are once again high for the Gators! (Okay…they usually are….this IS UF.). So expect challenges as you seek tickets for you and all your Gator-loving family and friends. The biggest rivalries — where it will be extra tough to score a ticket or a hotel room — are the September 12th game against Kentucky, the October 3rd game (and Homecoming) against the USC Gamecocks, and again the next week, October 10th, when the Gators face the 2019 National Champion LSU Tigers. The Gator’s home-opener in The Swamp is also their first game of the season. They’ll face Eastern Washington on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, September 5th.
“In all kinds of weather, we all stick together.”
As a longtime Gator Alumni, I know that experiencing a Gator game is well worth the visit…and the sweating. If you missed out on tickets for your chosen game, you could try to scalp a ticket outside of the stadium (read about my experience here), or you could buy on StubHub. Yes, they are pricey, but at least you’ll know where your seats are. The better the Gators do, the higher the prices go. You could take your chances and wait out some of the season, but prices are based on supply, demand, and a winning season. I say: pick a game and go for it.
Have U Heard that UF has a Clear Bag Policy for football games? I have been to many games at The Swamp over the past few years, and there is ALWAYS a student or a parent toting a handbag, backpack, or camera bag that doesn’t pass muster. Very small clutches measuring 4.5” x 6.5” (about the size of a hand) are allowed. Or you can go the chic accessory route and tote all your stuff with a permissible clear bag from Score Gameday bags. (Use the code HUH15 for a 15% discount. Why not have a clear bag that still has Gator style?)
There is nothing worse than being denied admission at the gate, especially close to the start time of a game. UF does not have a place to check items at the gates, so your only choice is to quickly stow it in your car or with a gracious friend who’s watching the game from a seat in the bar. (Something you, too, can plan for the game day you can’t score a ticket. See Where to Watch here.) Be sure to check out the full list of prohibited items and read Gameday Policies.
Show even more Gator pride by decorating your cell phone with a customized UF skin from Skinit. Use code huh25 and you will get 25% off your order (excludes gift cards, e-cards, and shipping).
If you are planning on coming up for Homecoming (October 2nd – 4th), you may want to book a hotel for Thursday through Sunday so you can take in Gator Gallop and the Parade on Friday, Gator Growl on Friday night, and the game on Saturday. Annually, this weekend takes on national holiday status in Gainesville. Our student Gators have Friday free of classes, as do the students at the local schools.
See our blog on hotels and start planning now. As soon as UF starts promoting the sale of tickets for a game, demand will increase.
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