Published Friday, December 13, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 5:40 pm
FOOTBALL
Husker football fans showing little interest in traveling to Florida for Gator Bowl

Throw the flag for intentional grounding.

Husker fans are showing so little interest in the Nebraska-Georgia matchup in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., that travel agencies have scrapped plans for a charter flight.

“I can't recall a time when I've seen this little interest in travel for a bowl game,” said Rose White, a AAA Nebraska spokeswoman.

The New Year's Day game — which follows a disappointing 8-4 season that ended with a big loss — features a rematch with Georgia, Nebraska's opponent in the 2013 Capitol One Bowl in Orlando, Fla. Nebraska lost that game 45-31.

Combined with speculation regarding Husker coach Bo Pelini's job security, Nebraska's Gator Bowl participation hasn't sparked much interest, said Steve Glenn, chief executive of Executive Travel in Lincoln.

“I hate to say it, but I think some people just want this season over,” said Glenn, a former Nebraska walk-on. “People just want to put it in the rearview mirror.”

Information about Gator Bowl ticket sales — overall or from Nebraska's 12,500-ticket allotment — wasn't available Thursday. It's possible, travel company officials said, that Husker fans ultimately will bring a healthy amount of red to the Jan. 1 game.

But the interest hasn't been enough to make it worth arranging a charter plane.

Executive Travel, AAA Nebraska and Allied Tour in Norfolk, Neb., had been trying this week to book travelers on a charter flight to Jacksonville. Only a couple of dozen of the 137 seats available had been sold since Sunday's bowl announcement, Glenn said Thursday.

As a result, the charter flight was canceled by the company handling it, Collegiate Athletics of State College, Pa.

Glenn said it was the first time in 27 years that his company has had to cancel a bowl game tour.

People who want to fly to Jacksonville can take commercial flights, but travel time could range from five to 14 hours because there are no direct flights from either Lincoln or Omaha.

Travel companies continue to offer tickets, hotel accommodations and motor coach tours to the Gator Bowl, but those offerings are also drawing less interest than in past years.

Travel officials said the Gator Bowl location is a factor.

Many Nebraskans, they said, had their sights set on traveling to Tempe, Ariz., for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Going to Florida yet again for a bowl was a letdown for some.

“It's a very attractive location, but people already travel to Florida a lot, and they would have appreciated the change in scenery,” said White of AAA Nebraska.

The decline in the Huskers' fortunes also is playing a role.

“Eppley Airfield used to be a sea of red before and after Nebraska's bowl games when they were in the top 10 every year,” White said. “Where you're ranked and where you're headed is a huge factor in how many people travel.”

Despite the canceled charter flight and the Huskers' record, Glenn said he thinks Nebraskans still support their team. And his own view remains positive as well.

“I actually think we're going to win the game,” he said.

Contact the writer: Andrew Ward

Andrew.Ward@owh.com    |  

Andrew is a University of Nebraska-Lincoln fellow who writes for news.

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