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Official Review by Chris Green, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The AutoNation Cure Bowl has the unique distinction of being a football game that means more than the result on the field. All of the proceeds from the annual bowl game at Camping World Stadium are donated to breast cancer research to help find a cure for the deadly ailment. On top of that, the game serves as a great escape from the cold of the north in the winter to a tropical oasis in the south.
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".
Finding food at Camping World Stadium is easy. For those in the suite levels, the food options are incredibly plentiful. The main suite in the west side of the stadium that was renovated, features a full-service bar and buffet. Outside of that suite are several bars, as well, with comfortable tables, chairs, and couches outside.
On the main concourse, the north end zone features a taco stand, as well as some other food options. Arepas are available all over the stadium for fans to get a taste of Florida.
For the majority of food vendors, a quality hot dog will cost you $4.50, while a chef's choice game day hot dog costs $7. Nachos are $5, popcorn is $4.50, peanuts run $4.75, and a large pretzel costs $4.
If you're looking for a larger selection for nacho fans, the Rio Grande Pork Nachos cost $10 and include shredded lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes, and can also have chicken added for no charge. A rice bowl will run just $10 with pork or chicken, black beans, and diced tomatoes.
A cheeseburger and fries costs $12, as does chicken fingers with fries. A spicy buffalo chicken sandwich with pepper jack cheese and fries also runs $12. A side of fries costs $4.50.
For beverages, a regular beer (Bud Light or Budweiser) costs $8, a large beer runs $11, and an import beer (Stella Artois) costs $11.
Bottled water runs $5, while a bottled soda will cost you $5.50.
The atmosphere at the Cure Bowl is different from most, as all those in attendance are helping to contribute to a worthy cause. The crowd is smaller than some of those in bigger bowls, with the upper bowl at Camping World Stadium being closed off to fans. In addition, the tie-ins usually result in smaller schools from mid-level conferences being invited, with UCF and Arkansas State highlighting the 2016 event.
Fans nonetheless can get a taste of the pageantry of bowl games. There is also plenty of beautiful scenery, with downtown Orlando just to the east, and lakes to the north and south of the stadium.
What can you say about downtown Orlando? Camping World Stadium is literally less than half a mile from downtown, right on Church Street, the hub of Orlando's rebirth as a foodie and entertainment destination. The City of Orlando has become a sports-thirsty destination over the last few years, with the explosion in popularity of Orlando City and a renewed interest in the Orlando Magic, the City Beautiful loves sports. The immediate area around Camping World Stadium is both suburbs to the west and downtown city center on the east. There are tons of hotels nearby, and since the stadium sits near I-4, getting to other resorts and hotels in the greater Orlando area is not hard to do, either. It can't get much better than this.
Because the upper bowl is closed off, the crowd size is naturally limited for the Cure Bowl. However, being a bowl game, the fans are going to be energized already without much provocation. The crowd still explodes with cheers, and the event is one of the most family-friendly games around. And since the event also has a charitable undertone, it feels like everyone there is kind and generous, making you feel relaxed and not worried about a fight breaking out between rival fans.
The stadium sits just a stone's throw from I-4 and literally off of the 408 highway. Getting there is not difficult either from the local roads, as most are multi-lane and signage is well-placed for parking areas.
Parking on-site is plentiful and easy to find. For those without a parking pass, you can also find parking in the various nearby business parking lots and front yards that sell parking. Public transport is also available in the area, making getting to Camping World Stadium an easy process.
Tickets for the Cure Bowl are affordable compared to most games, and with the money going back to a worthy cause, it is hard to argue with why one would want to attend this game. Getting the experience of a college bowl game is always enjoyable for sports fans in general, and getting to watch one in Florida in the winter makes it even better. Orlando is blessed with great weather, never too cold or too hot in December, meaning you will be comfortable no matter where you are from.
The game features plenty of in-game awards given away to athletes and local volunteers, as well as a check presentation for cancer research.
One of the cooler things the game also offers is a pre-game skydiving performance by military jumpers who parachute into the game with the flags of each school.
The pre-game and halftime performances feature both of the schools' bands, adding to the college pageantry fans know and love.
There is also a pre-game fan fest that includes a pre-game concert, photo opportunities with mascots, band performances, VIP tents, and interactive displays related to the Cure Bowl.
Finally, the Cure Bowl also features the post-game trophy presentation that championship events are known for, completing the championship feel for the event for fans in the stands.
If you are looking to attend a college bowl game somewhere where the weather is great, the location is even better, and the cost is low, you can't argue against the merits of the AutoNation Cure Bowl. In addition, you can walk away knowing that you helped donate to a worthy cause in trying to find a cure for breast cancer. Held at a world class facility often overlooked for its lack of a home football team, the Cure Bowl is a perfect mix of affordability, entertainment, and comfort, wrapped into the perfect gift of a college bowl game.
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