As college football fans in Nebraska and Iowa learned Sunday night about bowl matchups, the logistics of getting to those games and buying tickets started to take shape.
For some fans who had been certain that Nebraska would be headed to Tempe, Ariz., for a bowl appearance there, Sunday's announcement forced a quick about-face.
Sunday night and Monday, Husker fans began to book flights, reserve hotel rooms and buy tickets in Jacksonville, Fla., where the team is to play Georgia in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl on Jan. 1. A year ago, NU lost to Georgia in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla., 45-31.
AAA Nebraska had been preparing last week for a Tempe bowl game.
“Jacksonville is a wonderful destination,'' said AAA's Rose White. “It should be very accommodating to Nebraska fans.''
NU fans can purchase a three-day, two-night package that includes airfare, game ticket and a pregame tailgate party through AAA, which is working with Allied Tour on the packages, said White. She said the price of the package is $1,695 per person.
Hotel availability looks good in the Jacksonville area, she said, with plenty of flights also available. Round-trip airfares out of Omaha for Dec. 29 through Jan. 2 can be purchased for $725, White said, and round-trip fares out of Lincoln for the same dates were available Monday morning for $829.
AAA is also offering a chartered bus trip package to Jacksonville from Dec. 28 to Jan. 4 for $1,539 per person.
Nebraska's allotment of Gator Bowl tickets for the contest at EverBank Field became available for sale beginning at 8 a.m. Monday. They can be purchased online at huskers.com, or by calling 1-800-8-BIGRED. The game is set for 11 a.m. CST and it will be televised on ESPN2.
The total Nebraska ticket allotment was 12,750 tickets, Keith Mann, assistant athletic director for media relations, said Monday. Tickets are priced at $60, $80 and $125.
Meanwhile, the Iowa Hawkeyes learned that they will play Louisiana State University in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., also Jan. 1. The Iowa athletics ticket office was accepting orders for tickets Sunday night at hawkeyesports.com.
The co-owner of a Norfolk travel agency, Allied Tour and Travel, said he was planning three options for NU fans. His business will offer a chartered flight, a hotel-and-tickets package that requires fans to make separate arrangements to get to the stadium from Nebraska, and an eight-day motor coach for people who want to do a bit of sightseeing along the way.
Dave Busskohl said he'll likely be able to evaluate enthusiasm for Gator Bowl trips by late Monday.
He said the weather, likely to be warm in northern Florida on Jan. 1, will be a good draw. But playing the same opponent a year later may limit interest.
“It may not be quite as strong as Tempe would've been,” he said.
The Nebraska Alumni Association is offering packages starting at $899 that include hotel rooms, pregame tailgate party, game tickets, a New Year's Eve party and transportation to and from the game, said Diane Mendenhall, executive director of the alumni association. Fans are on their own as far as getting to and from Jacksonville.
Mendenhall said the alumni association sold 700 packages to the Huskers' Gator Bowl appearance five years ago. Nebraska defeated Clemson 26-21 in the 2009 Gator Bowl.
She also said NU has strong alumni support in the area, with chapters in Florida and Georgia.
“We put up our bowl package on our site at 8:15 last night,'' Mendenhall said. Bowl announcements were made at 8 p.m. Sunday. “And we had people buying packages by 8:40 p.m.”