The Outback Bowl: Gators, Hawkeyes, and Lots of Traffic
The Outback Bowl
On January 2, football fans will converge on Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. This time, though, they aren’t going to a Buccaneers game. Instead, the University of Florida will face off against the University of Iowa in the Outback Bowl. It’s one of the first bowl games in 2017.
The game is sure to be exciting. The Florida Gators are SEC divisions champions and have played in the Outback Bowl five times, although they have suffered a few losses this season, including a recent loss to their rivals, Florida State University. The University of Iowa is a Big Ten school, and the Hawkeyes have also played in the Outback Bowl five times before. They are currently on a winning streak, though both the Gators and the Hawkeyes have an 8-4 record this season. UF and Iowa are both very large schools with dedicated fan-bases and great players. There is sure to be plenty of cheering from both sides during the game.
Tampa and Raymond James Stadium have hosted the Outback Bowl since 1999. The long history, however, does not mean that people always remember how to drive or behave after the game! If you’re planning on driving in the area on January 2, be careful!
Raymond James Stadium is located at 4201 N. Dale Mabry Highway. It’s conveniently located in the center of downtown Tampa, and can be reached via I-275, the Courtney Campbell Causeway, and the Veteran’s Expressway. Traffic near the stadium will likely be congested on game day, but remember that surrounding roads will likely be a bit slower, too. Be aware of visitors from Iowa and Gainesville who might not be familiar with the roads.
Parking at the stadium opens at 9 A.M., while the game is slated to start at 1 P.M. People will be arriving early to tailgate in the parking lot, and will likely stay later after the game, too, either to celebrate their win or commiserate their loss. Essentially, the Outback Bowl is an all-day affair. If you can avoid downtown Tampa, you probably should. If you have to go to Tampa, plan in some extra time. After the game starts at 1, traffic is likely to clear up a bit, but you can never be sure. As most Tampa Bay drivers know, going through downtown Tampa can be busy and hectic on any day. It’s always best to factor in some extra time.
The Outback Bowl isn’t just going to affect the stadium, either! On New Year’s Eve, there will be a parade and pep rally in Ybor City. The parade will feature floats, marching bands, and a pep rally for fans of both teams. The parade starts at 5:30 P.M. and runs along 7th Avenue. If you are planning on spending New Year’s Eve in Ybor City, be aware of any closed routes.
There are a variety of other Outback Bowl events throughout Tampa Bay in the week leading up to the game, including a beach day at Clearwater Beach and events at the Florida Aquarium, Busch Gardens, and Lowry Park Zoo. While these events should be much smaller than the game and parade, be aware of the increased in traffic.
Good luck to both the Hawkeyes and the Gators— and to anyone who has to navigate downtown Tampa on game day!
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