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  • Lance Sutehall

Hancock Whitney Stadium - 68 Ventures Bowl


Photos by Matt Colville and Lance Sutehall, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Hancock Whitney Stadium 500 Stadium Dr Mobile, AL 36608

Year Opened: 2020 Capacity: 25,450

 

Bowling in Mobile

For the past quarter century Mobile, Alabama has hosted an annual bowl game currently known as the 68 Ventures Bowl. This game is a matchup between programs from the Sun Belt Conference and the Mid-American Conference. It was originally known as the Mobile Alabama Bowl and has also been called the GMAC Bowl (2000-10), GoDaddy Bowl (2011-15), Dollar General Bowl (2016-18), and the LendingTree Bowl (2020-22).


For most of the game’s existence, the game was played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium until 2021 when the game moved to its present location on the campus of the University of South Alabama.




Food & Beverage  4

There are plenty of choices for concessions at Hancock Whitney Stadium. The standard stadium fare includes pizza ($5), burgers ($7), hot dogs ($5), nachos ($5), candy ($4), and pretzel sticks ($5) as well as Conecuh sausage ($8), BBQ sandwiches ($12), and BBQ nachos ($12).


There is also a Foosackly’s chicken finger stand that sells a 3-finger plate ($6.50) and another stand that sells hot chocolate ($6). Coke is the soft drink provider with options including Dasani bottled water ($5), 22 oz. drinks ($4), or 32 oz. souvenir drinks ($6).


If you want to wash down your food with alcohol your options include Bud Light, Coors, Miller, and Micelob ($7.50) or craft beers ($8.50). Keep in mind the concessions are cashless.


Atmosphere  3

Entering the stadium it looked like I was entering a South Alabama Jaguars football game, not a bowl game (It should be noted South Alabama was one of the teams playing during the game I attended). I personally would have liked to have seen more “68 Ventures Bowl” signage outside. 


Once inside the stadium the Jaguars logo and the Sun Belt’s logos are covered by “68 Ventures Bowl” logos letting you know a bowl game is being played. I liked that both teams' entrances featured an LED light show and smoke machines as well as the national anthem featuring a flyover by the Coast Guard.


Neighborhood  3

Mobile is Alabama’s second-largest city and has a lot of attractions to see during a visit. Unfortunately, Hancock Whitney Stadium is a 20-minute drive west of the attractions I would recommend visiting.


If you only have time to do one thing in Mobile I recommend getting a tour of the USS Alabama battleship. Located by Mobile Bay, it was in use during World War II. The Battleship Park also has a gift shop and an aircraft pavilion that contains planes that were in use during several wars.


Other attractions to see in Mobile include Fort Conde, a replica of a 1700s fort, the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum, and the Exploreum. 


Restaurants to check out in Downtown Mobile include Dumbwaiter for Southern dishes, Roosters for Latin American meals, and Wentzell’s for seafood. If you are looking to visit a bar, stay on Dauphin Street and options include The Haberdasher, Hayley’s, and the Alchemy Tavern down Joachim Street. If you stay in downtown Mobile lodging options include Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, and a Renaissance Hotel.




If you want to stop by Gulf Shores and/or Orange Beach, they are about an hour's drive from downtown Mobile.


Fans  4

Given that the game was played on the campus of one of the participants it should not be surprising that there was a large crowd for the game. The Jaguars fans made the game feel like it was a regular season home game and not a bowl. The only knock on the fans is that the game was not a complete sell out given that one team was playing a home game.


Access  2

Hancock Whitney Stadium is not the easiest stadium to get to because it is at least 10 minutes away from the interstate. If you’re coming from Downtown Mobile or I-65 get on Spring Hill Avenue then turn left onto University Blvd. For $20 parking make another right at Old Shell Road and turn right at the baseball stadium. If you want to park for free you can park by USA Drive and walk 15 minutes to the stadium.


Once inside the stadium, the concourse is wide open, concession stands are all over the place, there are plenty of restrooms, and the walkways are well lit.


Return on Investment  4

Tickets start at $15 for end zone seats, go up to $45 for sideline seats, $65 for chairback seats at midfield, and $125 for a Hargrove Club seat. If you buy a $15 ticket, pay $20 for parking, grab a burger and a beer you would spend about $50 by yourself, $80 for a date/hangout, and $140 for a family of four.


Extras  5

The 68 Ventures Bowl has seen players such as LaDainian Tomlinson and Ben Roethlisberger. In 2001 the then GMAC Bowl involved the Marshall Thundering Herd overcoming a 38-8 deficit to defeat the East Carolina Pirates in double overtime 64-61. As of the writing of this article that remains the highest scoring bowl game in history.


Mobile is the birthplace of the Mardi Gras celebration and there is a Mardi Gras parade the night before the game that features the team's bands and cheerleaders. The teams also have a pep rally before a street party begins with a DJ and food trucks.


Mobile is also famous for hosting the Senior Bowl, college football’s most notable all-star game. Representatives from all 32 NFL teams come down to Mobile to scout future NFL players. This game has been played in Mobile since 1950 and moved to Hancock Whitney Stadium the same season the 68 Ventures Bowl moved.


One more thing to add is that the Azalea Trail Maids make an appearance at the game. These 50 high school seniors wear bright dresses meant to resemble Azalea flowers, a symbol of Mobile hospitality. 




Final Thoughts

There is a reason Mobile, Alabama has hosted a bowl game for the past quarter of a century. It is a game that is organized well, the fans enjoy coming to Mobile, and it is a good way to spend an evening.

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