Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.43
FBC Mortgage Stadium 4465 Knights Victory Way Orlando, FL 32816
Year Opened: 2007
Big Things for UCF
A great many things have changed for UCF since their championship parade down Main Street USA in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. After two back-to-back undefeated regular seasons, the team has finally moved from the American conference to the Big XII.
The Knights and their fans have been on the highest of highs in the last half-decade. Arguably the most visible and fastest growing program in NCAA Football, UCF has long been a hidden gem among college game-day experiences. However, the latest round of popularity has only helped this notoriety grow even further into the mainstream.
A trip to a Knights football game at the “Bounce House” reveals that the college football experience is alive and well on the campus of UCF. From the tailgating all across campus to the in-game fan interaction, the average uninitiated fan who isn’t familiar with the Knights will be surprised by this atmosphere.
Food & Beverage 5
After having average food options for many years, UCF invested in local businesses and upgraded their options. By far the star of the concessions at FBC Mortgage Stadium is Four Rivers BBQ; this central Florida BBQ restaurant has become a local favorite and can now be found at UCF football games.
Other popular options at the stadium are the Knights Dog (featuring an all-beef hot dog topped with shredded pork, queso blanco, onions, and salsa), nachos ($7), chicken Caesar wraps ($10), and pretzels ($7). Drink options include souvenir sodas ($10 with $5 refills), Truly VodKA Sodas ($9), beer ($9-$10), BodyArmor Water ($7), and bottled water and soft drinks ($4-$5.50).
In 2023, the Knights started offering collectible souvenir cups for $10 featuring the game poster for each matchup on them as well, making for a fun collectible to accumulate during the season. Standard stadium fare is also easy to find, as are other local favorites like Kelly’s Ice Cream.
There is a reason they call the FBC Mortgage Stadium the Bounce House. The fans keep this facility rocking all game, and the stands can be felt bouncing along as the fans hype up the players on the field. Holding approximately 45,000, the stadium gets very loud as well.
The pre-game tailgating is incredibly vast, covering nearly every open lot and green space on campus for hours before the game even starts, reaching from the lots at the stadium itself all the way across campus to the far corners of the academic buildings.
The facilities at FBC Mortgage Stadium are immaculate as well, with restrooms constantly restocked with paper towels and soap. During the game, everything one expects from a college football game is here, from the band performances to the Golden Knight riding onto the field on horseback before kickoff.
The fans are sport-knowledgeable and know their favorite players well. During night games, the new LED lighting adds to the look on the field, adding colored hues during performances and flashing on and off whenever the Knights score. During the second half, fans take part in “Lights Up, Lights Down” where everyone turns on their cell phone lights and waves them up and down in unison to create a truly remarkable sight.
Unlike some Florida colleges where fans go to be part of a fad or part of the scene, the fans at FBC Mortgage Stadium go out of pure loyalty. UCF games are truly a sight to behold for a college many had dismissed as just another mid-major team, and fans from all over the Big XII have remarked on how friendly and welcoming the UCF faithful have been to visiting patrons. Packed and sold-out games are a frequent occurrence in Orlando, and it is easy to see why.
FBC Mortgage Stadium is located on the campus of UCF; both the immediate area around the stadium and the campus itself are chock full of places to find food and shopping. Just outside the stadium’s main gate are Addition Financial Arena and UCF’s baseball stadium. Here, you can also find the UCF campus bookstore and associated Starbucks, as well as Burger U, the campus bar and burger/wings joint frequented by fans and students. Outside of campus, you can find Blaze Pizza, Tijuana Flats, and countless more restaurants.
For somewhere to stay, the closest options are Hilton Garden Inn and DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando East. Fans in the area are also less than an hour from Cocoa Beach and Kennedy Space Center to the east, while to the west they can find downtown Orlando and Lake Eola Park.
The fans at UCF are among some of the best in college football. However, a lot of that changed when ESPN’s College Game Day visited Orlando last season. The stadium is frequently sold out now, thanks to the team’s recent successes, and when FBC Mortgage Stadium is full to the gills with upwards of 45,000 fans, the noise level gets loud.
Before the game starts, the parking lots and garages all over campus are packed full of tailgating fans. Most of all, the experience at FBC Mortgage Stadium is extremely family friendly – you will see the full range of fans, from older generations who have been long-time Central Florida residents to the youngest fans with growing families.
The biggest difficulty of game day at FBC Mortgage Stadium is the parking and traffic in and around the stadium. Being that the stadium is located on campus, the roads in and out of the facility are small and get clogged quickly. Parking lots and garages fill up fast, so getting to the stadium early helps avoid a longer walk from across campus to the stadium’s gates in the hot Florida sun.
Thankfully, the school has done a great job of managing the traffic flow in and out of campus. Additionally, new updates to FBC Mortgage Stadium’s ingress and egress mean no longer having to enter a gate and navigate the entire concourse to find your seat.
Return on Investment 5
Tickets to UCF games start at around $35 to $50 and go up from there. Students can also purchase student-guest tickets for $25 to $28 on the day of the game on a first-come first-served basis, for guests to sit in the student section with them. With ticket prices for top-level college football in Florida’s great weather, it won’t break the bank to take the family or friends to a game on a given Saturday. In addition, with concessions prices also low and with top quality food, you can also feel comfortable knowing getting a bite to eat won’t cost an arm and a leg.
Outside the main entrance to FBC Mortgage Stadium stands a statue of former head coach George O’Leary; it is a popular photo spot for fans. Before the game, fans can watch the players arrive at the stadium and walk into the stadium during the Knight Walk.
After that, the March to Victory features a horse-riding knight clad in golden armor who rides into the stadium before kickoff, alongside a miniature pony named Nugget with the marching band in full parade behind them. This march starts in the tailgating areas near Addition Financial Arena and proceeds into the stadium after marching past the fans outside.
Pre-game concerts also feature local stars, from cover bands to Shaq aka DJ Diesel.
In addition, several games feature flyovers and smoke machines have been added throughout the stadium in 2023 to go off whenever a touchdown is scored.
While many may not think of UCF when it comes to the best college experiences in Florida, the team has quickly turned that opinion around for fans who have entered the gates at FBC Mortgage Stadium. A growing and expanding program like UCF warrants increased interest from fans, and it is easy to see why they are flocking to Orlando. A visit to Orlando’s hometown team is almost now a must-see for any sports fan traveling through the state of Florida.