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Official Review by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
EverBank Field opened in 1995 as home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the NFL's 30th franchise. The stadium replaced the Gator Bowl, which was built in 1928 and had hosted the annual Gator Bowl (now the TaxSlayer Bowl) since 1946. The TaxSlayer Bowl is the sixth-longest running bowl game, and was the first to be televised nationally. The TaxSlayer Bowl pairs teams from the Big 10 and SEC, and the capacity of the stadium on bowl game day is over 15,000 higher than during Jacksonville Jaguars regular season games, thanks to the removal of tarps and the installation of temporary seating.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
EverBank Field offers typical stadium fare on bowl game day, including the high prices fans have come to expect from pro stadiums.
The concession stands are mostly outlets of local Jacksonville restaurants, such as Bono's (barbecue) and Dick's (wings and grill). Food options include such fare as chicken wings, boneless wings, chicken tenders, burgers, hot dogs, nachos, pizza, fish and chips, pulled pork sandwiches, smoked sausage, and smoked turkey for $5 to $10 per item. Snack items include things like popcorn, fries, and peanuts for around $5 or $6.
Drink options include a wide variety of beer brands, including craft beers and some mixed drinks, starting at $6 all the way up to $12. Non-alcoholic options include water, Pepsi products, iced tea, and Gatorade - water is $3 and other beverages start at $5.
Bowl games in January tend to be the better post season matchups in college football, because they usually pit better teams (read: Power 5) and are played at better facilities (for example, NFL or other pro stadiums). The TaxSlayer Bowl is no exception, and the staff arranges plenty of interesting entertainment.
First of all, the game is played at a pro stadium, which means higher prices but a better venue. One of the most notable aspects of EverBank Field is the swimming pool on one side of the upper level. Ticket prices are pretty high in that section (called a pool cabana), but even if you don't sit there, you are still guaranteed a comfortable plastic bucket-style chair back seat. There are also some decent-sized video boards above each end zone - not the biggest around, but plenty good enough to catch the replay if you missed it the first time.
While none of the entertainment here at the TaxSlayer Bowl is as spectacular as the jet flyovers or paratroopers landing you might see at other bowl games, it is still a lot of fun. As with most games, you will see both participating school's bands perform, but you will also see local high school bands performing, which is interesting to watch, since they all perform together in their different uniforms, providing a nice display of color. You will also see the Parris Island Marine Band, as well as new Marines being sworn in. Finally, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will also make an appearance, including driving his red and white car across the field (Dale is TaxSlayer's official spokesperson).
While the area immediately surrounding EverBank Field doesn't offer much in the way of entertainment, fans will find plenty to do in the sprawling city of Jacksonville.
Like most big stadiums, in the immediate vicinity, you will find massive parking lots and freeway overpasses. But here at EverBank Field, you will also find plenty of churches, as well as other sports venues, such as Veterans Memorial Arena, home of Jacksonville University's basketball squad, and the Arena Football League's Jacksonville Sharks.
A few miles from the stadium, however, you can find plenty to do at Jacksonville Landing, which is along the river. There are several great restaurants such as American Grill, Benny's Steak and Seafood, and MacCool's Irish Pub. There are also several nightclubs, and of course there is plenty to do on the water, such as river cruises, dolphin watches, and fishing. And if you want to stay the weekend, you can also make the short 45-minute trip south to St. Augustine, which is America's oldest city, and features plenty of history and several tourist attractions. Or if you prefer to stay in town, you can check out the zoo and wildlife sanctuary. Be sure to plan ahead, however - since this is still the holiday season, some attractions have limited hours.
There are plenty of hotels all over the city, depending on your budget and how close you want to be to the stadium. Be sure to book well in advance if you can, to assure yourself the best selection.
It is interesting that they remove the tarps and bring in temporary seating to increase capacity, because while the crowd is pretty intense, the TaxSlayer Bowl is definitely not a sellout.
Though technically a neutral-site game, unfortunately for the Big 10, the crowd may appear a little lopsided, since all the SEC participants are a lot closer. Nevertheless, both teams will still have a pretty strong showing, with plenty of fans in both team's colors to match the paint in each end zone, and plenty of crowd noise on each side. For the most part, you will see a split down the middle between the two sets of fans, especially on the lower level. Check out the crowd here, as well as some of the stadium décor:
Getting into EverBank Field for the Taxslayer Bowl isn't too bad, partly due to the smaller than usual crowd for a football game here. However, depending on where you park, it may feel a bit like Frogger.
There is plenty of parking right outside the stadium for those with passes, but for those without, you can park a mile or less away in a grass lot for around $15. Depending on what side of the stadium you are on, however, you may end up walking up or having to cross a busy road, as local police do not do a very good job blocking traffic beyond the stadium gates. On the plus side, once you get into EverBank Field, there are plenty of ramps and escalators you can use to get to your seat, and there are gates all around the stadium, so lines are not too long. Remember that this is a pro stadium, though, so be mindful of the size of your purse or bag - the NFL is a little more strict about their entry policy than is the NCAA.
The concourses inside the stadium are fairly wide, and there are more than enough concessions stands and bathrooms on all levels, so you should easily be able to find what you need. Getting out after the game is also pretty easy, even if you stay until the end.
Ticket prices are pretty fair for a game like this, but because it is a pro stadium, concessions are on the high side. It would be more worthwhile if they had some giveaways, or even some more interesting entertainment.
You can sit in the lower level for around $60 per ticket, and if you don't mind the upper deck, you can save a little money. Be sure to check ticket prices online, however, because buying from the school directly may cost more than via Ticketmaster. Also, you can save on Ticketmaster fees by waiting until game day to buy, since it won't be a sell out - unless you are very picky about your seat, that is.
Coming to Jacksonville for a winter-time bowl game is a much better option than heading somewhere up north, so that is plus. The opportunity to see a good non-conference matchup between two solid teams is also a bonus.
During the holidays, football is a must, or at least it should be, and the nice thing about a bowl game in January is that you have plenty of time to make travel plans after the matchups are announced in early December. The TaxSlayer Bowl is a nice mid-range bowl option, which might not have the craziness and intensity of some of the bigger bowl games, but definitely provides a great location and a decent matchup.
Member Review by collegiatestdms on Mar 12, 2012
The Gator Bowl matches a Big Ten team versus a SEC team on New Year’s Day and is played at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Florida. Normally EverBank Field is home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The stadium is average at best as an NFL facility. As a Bowl game venue it falls a little flat and provides a less than spectacular experience.
Member Review by collegiatestdms on Mar 12, 2012
The Gator Bowl matches a Big Ten team versus a SEC team on New Year's Day and is played at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Normally EverBank Field is home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The stadium is average at best as an NFL facility. As a Bowl game venue it falls a little flat and provides a less than spectacular experience.
Member Review by justinrsutton on Jan 03, 2013
While the Jacksonville Jaguars wrapped up a disappointing 2-14 season on December 30, their home, EverBank Field played host to two fan bases full of hope in the 68th Annual TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, a matchup that saw the Northwestern Wildcats (10-3) defeat the Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-5) 34-20.
The first Gator Bowl saw Wake Forest defeat Clemson 26-14 on New Year’s Day in 1946. While the game developed an ACC flavor around 1976, the bowl inked a deal with the SEC and Big Ten to set up the third New Year’s Day, Florida-based matchup between the two conferences in 2010. Since that change, Mississippi State has represented the SEC on two occasions, and the Florida Gators made the trip to Jacksonville once. On the Big Ten side, Michigan, Ohio State, and Northwestern have all played in the Gator Bowl.
The 2012-13 edition of the game saw the worst attendance figure since 2000, a matchup between Miami and Georgia Tech, which drew 43,416, with only 48,612 fans showing up to watch the Mississippi State-Northwestern showdown. Gator Bowl president Rick Catlett told the Florida Times-Union that neither team provided much of a draw for local fans.
Of note from the game, the Wildcats snapped a nine-game losing streak in bowls, a streak that dated back to the 1995 Rose Bowl. The last bowl victory for Northwestern had come in 1948, a 20-14 Rose Bowl victory over California. Mississippi State had won a nation-high six straight bowl games coming into the contest.
2 Independent Dr, Ste 175
Jacksonville, FL 32202
2 Independent Dr, Ste 201
Jacksonville, FL 32202
1860 Starratt Rd
Jacksonville, FL 32226
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