Familiarity did little to dampen enthusiasm for the Outback Bowl.
Fans of the Iowa football team will flock to Tampa, Fla., for the fourth time in 11 years.
And there’s no hesitation.
More than 10,000 tickets for the Jan. 1 game against Louisiana State were sold through the school. Winebrenner Red Carpet Travel in Iowa City booked five planes for the 1,400-mile trip.
“Anybody who has been here knows we’re known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, as well as the great entertainment activities,” said Eddie Peters, vice-president of the Tampa Bay Iowa Club. “People who are making their first trip will be amazed at how world class we really are.”
Peters studied and worked at the University of Iowa in the 1970s and early ’80s.
He holds fond memories of the 1982 Rose Bowl, and welcomed Iowans during their previous three visits to Tampa, in 2004, 2006 and 2009.
“After we beat Nebraska (in the regular-season finale), we anticipated that we had a great shot at the Outback Bowl,” Peters said. “We do something called bowl math, trying to figure out what the possibilities are.
“Once we got a sense this was a good possibility, we started getting organized for it.”
Peters provided a snapshot of the itinerary:
*Dec. 30 is Beach Day.
It starts at 11 a.m., at Clearwater Beach, behind the Clearwater Hilton. Marching bands will perform. Cheerleaders from both schools will compete in a tug-of-war. And a few players will make an appearance.
“We invite everyone who is coming down to come visit us at our tent,” Peters said. “We’ll be right there with the Tampa Bay Iowa Club.”
*Dec. 31 brings a couple options.
A Hawkeye Huddle will be held from 6-9 p.m. at the Tampa Convention Center. Attendees will be able to watch the men’s basketball game between Iowa and Nebraska on a giant screen television.
Meanwhile, in Ybor City, a parade will start at 5:30 p.m. and run until 8 p.m. Afterward, there is a pep rally for both schools.
“Unfortunately, they kind of butt up against each other,” Peters said. “Some will want to go to the parade and some will want to go to the huddle. Some could actually do both.”
*New Year’s Day kicks off with tailgating.
A pregame party will be held in the south plaza, outside the stadium. It will include entertainment, food and drink.
Walk-ups are welcomed.
Peters also mentions popular attractions such as the Busch Gardens amusement park, the Florida Aquarium, located downtown, and the Dali Museum (featuring artwork by Salvador Dali).
The Tampa-St. Petersburg area has become a sporting hub, hosting multiple Super Bowls, a Final Four and was recently award the college football championship game in 2017.
Add it up, and there should be plenty to do besides root for the Hawkeyes.
“Our feeling is, we’d like to be in the Rose Bowl every year,” Peters said. “But if we can’t, we love it right here in Tampa.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football