UVA fans slow to bite on Gator Bowl tickets

With its location on the north Florida coast, Jacksonville has had its share of flooding over the years. But while the ocean has swallowed up its streets in the past, it doesn't look like Jacksonville will have to worry about getting flooded by the "Sea of Orange."

With only three weeks to go until kickoff on New Year's Day, UVA fans are not exactly clamoring for tickets to see their beloved Cavaliers take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the Gator Bowl. In a mass e-mail to the university community, athletic director Craig Littlepage reports that as of yesterday UVA has sold only 8,451 of its allotted 13,500 tickets. The message to Wahoo Nation accompanying this news was urgent.

"A perception that Virginia fans didn't 'travel' well hurt us in the bowl selection process," he writes. "A school's ability to sell out its ticket allotment is an important factor in the selection process for future bowl games, so it's important that the tickets allocated to us are sold."

Littlepage also touted the fact that it's defensive star Chris Long's last game for the Cavs, bargain travel packages, and the bustling Jacksonville nightlife as reasons to attend the game.

For those uninitiated to the ways of the collegiate pigskin, generally speaking, the most traditionally prestigious (and lucrative) bowl games occur on or around New Year's Day. This will be the first time the Cavaliers will have taken the field on January 1 since the 1994 Carquest Bowl in Miami. Since then, the Wahoos and (some of) their fans have made postseason trips to such sun-and-fun-filled vacation destinations as Charlotte, Nashville, and Boise.

Not that Jacksonville has a much better reputation. In 2005, in a column anticipating Super Bowl XXXIX, held at the Jacksonville Jaguars' Alltel Stadium (now sponsor-less and known simply as Jacksonville Municipal Stadium), Washington Post sportswriter and ESPN commentator Tony Kornheiser wrote that the city boasts little more culture than a Hooters, a Dairy Queen, and an Applebee's, that in January it's "cold enough that you need to keep the space heater turned on in the double-wide," and the city as a whole smells so bad that a friend of his once deplaned there and "got a whiff of something that almost brought him to his knees."

So angry were Jacksonvillians with this characterization, that when Kornheiser returned to the city in 2006 for a Monday Night Football game, he did so with an armed police escort.

Fans wishing to purchase tickets to the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl can do so by calling 800-542-8821, going online, or in-person at the Scott Stadium box office.

#

14 comments

Man, i wish. I'm roughly 38 years from retirement. Also, Norfolk is about three hours away. Thanks for the heads-up. And welcome to the Cville Attitude. We really do think we're better than everybody.

I came across this article while surfing. It was obviously written by some anal-retentive, nerd-type person with no research skills, and who has obviously never been to Jacksonville.

Only one Hurricane has ever hit Jacksonville in recorded history (9/10/1964 on the day before the Beatle Concert at the Gator Bowl. The winds were still so strong that Ringo's drumset had to be nailed to the deck), and while it is not unusual for our water-rich area to have rain-swolen streets during storms,....

but to write that Jacksonville streets were "flooded by the ocean ?"..... ?... get real....obviously a lie...

It is true that we often do not fill our stadium, but that is simply because we built such a "HUGE" stadium... A stadium able to handle all "future growth".. It is too big now, but will be too small some day.

It is also true that "WE DECLINED 31 MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR OFFERS FOR NAMING RIGHTS TO OUR STADIUM", as Jacksonville is a Navy town, and we decided, given the current War in Iraq, and the 17 Jacksonville Military members that we have lost so far, "TO RETAIN THE 'OFFICIAL NAME' OF THE STADIUM UNTIL THE WAR ENDS."

While we have always called the stadium by it's nickname of the "Gator Bowl", the REAL, OFFICIAL NAME of the stadium is the "JACKSONVILLE VETERANS MEMORIAL ARENA"...... As for that jerk Kornhole, or however it is spelled, he is just doing his job, ie: he is not a "real" sports guy, his job is to cajol, and insult the various teams that he talks about..

All except New York or New England of course... After all, he is a yankee...

He always talks smack when he is down here, but then, he is an "anti-southern, yankee bigot... What do you expect..

In any case, after the pandering complaints about him during the Superbowl, he is lucky he wasn't jailed...

In any case, we ignore people like him, and just tell them to go back to the little-apple and eat quiche....

As for the game, too bad that UVA people won't be attending... We'll have fun without you...

or, you can support your team, and COME ON DOWN....

There's a perception that Virginia football fans don't travel well because, well, Virginia football fans don't travel well. They never have, except to Atlanta or Charlotte. Hell - Virginia fans don't even go to nearby road games. UVA fans complained that there were so many Tech fans at the game a few weeks ago. Know why? BECAUSE VIRGINIA FANS SOLD THEIR TICKETS TO TECH FANS. That doesn't happen elsewhere. Go to any real big-time program and the opposing fans are well-contained in their visiting sections, and that's pretty much it.

A few years ago we went to the UVA game at Duke. There were maybe 200 UVA fans there, and probably 10,000 empty seats. A decent road trip could have made that seem like a Wahoo home game - but there must have been a wine tasting or some restaurant was debuting the latest flavor of Zima.

If you've ever been to a home game of any other Major program, UVA doesn't even come close.

Of course in all fairness, The Jacksonville Jaguars can't even sell our their own stadium.

Apparently, the bowl system isn't THAT meaningless, otherwise our friend Dave wouldn't be willing to devote 3 or 4 hours sitting in front of his TV on New Year's Day.

That's like saying "I love the Cavs, but hey - if some Hokie wants to give me $200 for my ticket to the Tech game I'll watch from the comfort of my living room and let him fight the post-game traffic."

This is why Al Groh has such a huge uphill battle to get this program over the hump. And it's amusing that the same people who have no problem filling online forums with diatribes against Groh last year are now going to sit this bowl game out. Those people aren't fans. Calling them fair-weather fans is an insult to fans and the weather. They want an undefeated season, 100% graduation rate, Bowl Games in the Bahamas EVERY YEAR, and they don't want to have to pay for any of it!

This team and this school deserve better fans.

I've been to Jacksonville, and it's just too big to be a great or a terrible city. The beaches are gorgeous, the highways are awful (granted they are under major construction), and the downtown non-descript. That said, if I had the money, I'd be down there in a minute to enjoy the weather, see UVa play, and go visit some old friends in Daytona. If you have the money, please go, and enjoy it for me.

Jim, if you are retired, try House Swapping.

I found this on Craigs List in your area:

http://norfolk.craigslist.org/swp/455552274.html

4br - House swap with someone in Jacksonville FL

---------------------------------
Reply to: hartlesj@comcast.net
Date: 2007-10-29, 6:43PM EDT

I have a 4 BR 2 Ba 2300sqft. Beautiful home built just over a year ago. I am being sent to Norfolk on orders and would like to swap houses with someone comming to the Jacksonville area. The house is located centrally between NAS Jax, NAV STA Mayport(about a 30 min drive) and about a 45 min drive to Kings Bay. It is a single level in a new neighborhood with a brand new elementary school. I am looking for a temporary house swap with someone for a house in the Norfolk/Chesapeake/virginia beach area. This would be a temporary switch ending after about 2 years. You pay your MTG and I Pay mine. we both take care of the homes like they were our own. There is a community pool in the neighborhood and lots to do close.

13360 Smithwick Ln at Victoria lakes E

cats are OK- purrr
dogs are OK- wooof
Location: zip 32226

Look, Jacksonville is a not a bad place for a bowl but it's not a good place either. Better places:
1.Atlanta- easy drive, inside a dome, huge alumni base. lots of wahoos loved to go there for the chic filet bowl. New aquarium is fantastic!
2. Orlando- disney, universal-'nuff said
3. Miami- because it's an international city with great food, pretty people and good beaches. It's also the Championship winner's bowl.
4.Charlotte- great new stadium- super easy drive so no need for hotel room. The least expensive and we won two tire bowls there
5.San Francisco- the emerald bowl is a lesser bowl but this city is world class. Most people would put this ahead of Jacksonville and I would not argue that point.

This puts Jacksonville 6th/5th in my book- not a bad place but not compelling

Al Groh promised 30k fans- not so much.

Oh Boo hoo. I love the cavs, but like most fans, I will be enjoying the game in the comfort of my own home rather than feeding more dollars into a meaningless bowl system.

It's really not any complicated calculus on my part. I went to UVa, love the school, enjoy watching games on television, but cannot afford the time or money it takes to head down to Florida.
I feel no guilt over this, nor should I. Impugn my fanhood if you like.

Thanks anyway. Enjoy the weather there.

lol...

too bad Jim:

if my house was larger, i would put you up for the game..

I suggest Mr. Littlepage raise the funds to buy all those tickets if he is concerned about UVA doing poorly in the bowl selection process because a perception of poor travel. If we can spend millions on facilities, and salaries for Al "There are no muslims on my plane" Groh, then surely UVA could pony up the quarter million dollars it would take to ensure all the tickets were sold. They could even donate them to the Boys and Girls clubs of Jacksonville, so some poor kids could get a chance to see a football game in person. It might even help recruiting. Imagine a young speedster on the mean streets of J'ville choosing Virginia because he remembers getting a free ticket from Craig Littlepage and watching the 'Hoos play on New Years Day 2008.
It is bad enough tickets to Virginia football and basketball are so expensive, but to blame bad bowl selections, however true, on fans decision to not spend money on a trip to a second rate desitnation to watch a second tier team, play another second teir team, is a pretty low move for someone as dignified as Craig Littlepage claims to be.

I've lived in the Jacksonville area for 26 years. Allow me to correct some of the previous misconceptions and outright falsehoods:

1. The stadium can seat 77,000 people, with additional seating up to 84,000 -- the latter number was the attendance for this year's FSU-Alabama game and Florida-Georgia game. The name is the Muncipal Stadium, in the abcense of a naming rights deal. The nearby coliseum is the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, not the footall stadium. That said, it's an NFL venue and state of the art.

2. The area is home to the PGA Tour headquarters and the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, used for The Players Championship. Tour players such as Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk and Fred Funk live here. David Duval was born here and maintains a home. It also is home to the World Golf Hall of Fame (with two more great courses) and 80 miles from the LPGA headquarters in Daytona Beach.

3. There are three large shopping malls and numerous ecletic shopping areas such as San Marco, Riverside-Avondale. The nation's oldest city, St. Augustine, is 35 miles away from downtown, with a grace and charm that 500 years of history can bring.

4. There are many beaches, all of which are much easier to access than South Florida beaches. No one knows what the weather will be the week of the game, but the last 10 days have been in the high-70s and sunny. We also have the St. Johns River and a number of creeks and gorgeous marshes. The fishing is as good as it gets.

5. There are no more "smells." Environmental laws and regulations for nearby paper mills and other industry have made that accusation a non-issue for 20 years. If Tony Kornheiser had spent five minutes on the internet, he would have known that.

Virginia fans need to give this area a chance. More than that, they are risking invitations to future bowls, including the BCS, if they don't support the ones to which they're invited.

Yall come. We'd love to have you. You will enjoy it.