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Official Review by Miles Markiewicz, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Somewhere in the sweltering heat of Orlando, Florida there is a prominent metal structure that bounces and shakes with the jumping of its college football fans. This, ladies and gentleman, is The Bounce House. Bright House Networks Stadium is the first official on-campus site of football for the University of Central Florida. The school boasts the largest undergraduate enrollment in the country and encompasses a huge mass of land just 45 minutes from Walt Disney World.
The Knights of Central Florida played football in the Citrus Bowl until 2007, the year of the official move to campus. This is always a big deal to any emerging college football program, but to the community of Central Florida, this was a game changer. The city is void of any professional football, so in addition to the massive student body, there are plenty of football fans that grew up a part of the Knight community. The capacity of 45,000 is an appropriate size while the program continues to build on recent success of the Fiesta Bowl victory versus Baylor in 2014.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The pulled pork nachos are a great halftime snack, but the food and beverage options are nothing special. There are a few unique offerings including a soft cookie ($3), roasted peanuts ($4) and theater style candy ($4). Combos include a pizza/drink for $10.50, hot dog/drink for $7.50, and roasted peanuts/drink for $7.50.
There are better options to get some great food outside of the stadium, so you should plan accordingly.
In the prime of George O'Leary's reign as head coach (2004-2015), the Bounce House had one of the best atmospheres in the American Athletic Conference. Even when the Knights were finding their stride in Conference USA, the stadium was intimidating when Kernkraft 400 came through the loudspeakers.
When the stadium opened in 2007, camera operators struggled keeping the frame steady when the crowd would get rowdy, literally causing the metal stadium to flex in tune with the jumping. Since then, renovations have limited the amount of movement, but the structural design still remains.
There is a lot of sound with this giant metal bowl and it becomes a strong presence in the midst of big moments. Before every kickoff, the student section raises and jingles their keys in perfect unison to create noise. During a big game, the entire crowd joins in on this tradition and creates a really cool effect throughout the stadium.
Bright House Networks Stadium also receives quite a few Thursday night games, which are really fun and different from the routine Saturday schedules of most big programs. A night game in the Bounce House brings extra energy, especially when the program is being highlighted by a major network.
The University of Central Florida campus is absolutely beautiful, located on the east side of Orlando, Florida. Most students and members of the community will say "Welcome to paradise, the City Beautiful." It truly is an awesome neighborhood at any time of the year.
There is plenty to experience in Orlando with a vast amount of tourist attractions located just 45 minutes across town, but don't overlook the campus. The school boasts impressive amenities due to the highest number of undergraduate admissions in the country.
UCF has a great collection of restaurants and shops within easy walking distance of the stadium. Burger U usually has some good specials on game day and it's located right next to the stadium. This way, you can still take in the atmosphere if you decide not to purchase a ticket to the game.
Four Rivers Smokehouse is located on University Blvd off campus and offers some of the best barbecue in town. Bar Louie is another good spot to grab a brew before or after the game. You can find that on the corner of Alafaya and University. Tenders has some great fried food and homemade sauce, located a few minutes from Bar Louie.
The fans at UCF bring tailgating to a high level. This collection of fans on a Saturday afternoon may not match the talent of SEC tailgates, but they make it their own. "The Mall" is a large lawn on campus, about a ten minute walk from the stadium. This is where all of the best tailgaters set up their stations for the day.
The tailgating is a very social event at UCF, almost the main event. It is not uncommon for students to tailgate with their friends all day and then skip the game. Otherwise, the Bounce House would be selling out every Saturday. The fans need to figure out how to get everybody involved in the awesome tailgating atmosphere AND game atmosphere.
About an hour before kickoff, fans start to walk together toward the stadium, almost like a soccer procession. The weather usually cooperates and makes for a great game day environment. Blue skies, barbecue, lemonade, cold brews, and great friends usually accompany a UCF tailgate.
The energy inside the stadium is great for a big game. Fans might decide to stay next to the tailgate if the opponent is less than stellar. It usually depends on the schedule, so be sure to schedule a visit for a big conference opponent. The rattling of the keys and jumping in the stands are a part of being a Knight, you'll soon want to partake in these festivities.
Since the campus is located a good distance from downtown, the traffic for games is usually pretty manageable. The parking can be nightmare due to the heavy volume of people making their way to the area for the tailgate. If you're willing to make a walk, you can park pretty far away for cheap. Otherwise, you might end up paying more than you want for a normal parking spot.
The stadium has plenty of space in the concourses and is built to leave plenty of room in the stands. The lines at concessions can get really long; it's better to grab food outside the stadium. Make some extra time if you plan on standing in line at halftime.
The stadium is a short drive from 408 (East-West Expressway).
Tickets are really affordable and can be purchased at the box office hours before kickoff. You should spend money on food outside the stadium at the restaurants. UCF football is a reasonably priced experience, especially considering its hold on the local community. You should definitely plan a trip to Orlando for all of the attractions, but also be sure to stop by the Bounce House if your visit coincides with the right Saturday afternoon.
The statue of a knight on his noble steed outside the stadium is worth checking out.
Kernkraft 400 gets a point for making everybody jump to the music before kickoff.
The Mall earns a final point here for providing a great tailgating atmosphere.
The stadium experience at the Bounce House is not what it used to be, but it's also about to grow into something better than it was. This program will continue to build under the new leadership of Head Coach Scott Frost. There is a lot of excitement in visiting some of the best traditions in college football, but it's also special to visit a campus that continues to build a legacy. The area around the stadium continues to grow with new businesses and opportunities. There will continue to be a demand for quality football in Orlando and with that success brings 44,000 jumping fans into the stadium. Once this is accomplished, there will be no stopping these Knights.
Member Review by JasonClary
Bright House Networks Stadium is the home of the University of Central Florida Knights. The Knights, a team on the rise, are in the mix this season to win a conference title in Conference-USA. Every year the Knights' fan base continues to grow, as UCF has a student body of over 50,000. The Knights have already been brought up in talks with the Big East Conference expansion, which would help this huge school gain national exposure. Every football game at Bright House Networks Stadium is better than the last.
Member Review by JimFolsom on Oct 08, 2012
Bright House Networks Stadium is a five-year old stadium on the campus of the University of Central Florida. In the interest of full disclosure, let me admit to you that I am a graduate of the school and have on and off been a season ticket holder for the last 15 years or so. So I bring a little different perspective than other venues I’ve been to where I have no particular affinity for the team or any prior knowledge of the venue. I know the history of both the school and the surrounding area around the stadium and also the previous UCF football venue, the Florida Citrus Bowl.
Having stated this, I thought of another way I could make this review a little bit different than the typical reviews we do here at Stadium Journey. It just so happened that UCF had two home games in one. One was a day game at 12:00pm on Saturday against the Missouri Tigers of the SEC. On Thursday night at 8:00pm, the Knights played a conference game against the East Carolina Pirates. So what I will do is compare the two so that if you did want to visit the stadium, you might be better informed on when to go as well.
Member Review by Drew4479 on Oct 12, 2013
The University of Central Florida is located not far from downtown Orlando, and is an extremely large university, with about 50,000 undergraduate students. Still relatively new to big-time football, the UCF Knights started a program in 1979 and ascended to the FBS in 1996. They’ve been incredibly successful for a school with such a short football history.
Bright House Networks Stadium opened in 2007 as the new home for the Knights, who had previously played off campus at the Citrus Bowl. The stadium seats 45,323, and has had capacity crowds up to over 48,000 in its brief history. Located on the northern edge of campus, the stadium is much easier to access for students on gameday.
Member Review by Aaron S. Terry on Dec 07, 2015
Not yet a decade old, Bright House Networks Stadium is a shiny new on-campus facility. Right now UCF is coming off probably their worst season ever, and the former Notre Dame head coach retired soon after they became bowl ineligible a month and a half ago. But in the past they have had some great crowds in attendance, with lots of high energy. Maybe the new coach can bring that back. And Orlando is a great town.
504 N Alafaya Tr
Orlando, FL 32828
UCF Student Union, Building 52
Orlando, FL 32816
4233 E Plaza Dr
Orlando, FL 32816
11764 University Blvd
Orlando, FL 32817
4100 N Alafaya
Orlando, FL 32826
12125 High Tech Ave
Orlando, FL 32817