Sports

Iowa football fans eager for warm weather

Hawkeyes and Cyclones report strong bowl game ticket sales

Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz looks on Jan. 2, 2017, during the second quarter of the Outback Bowl played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz looks on Jan. 2, 2017, during the second quarter of the Outback Bowl played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

Iowans like to head south for the winter especially if it means watching their home team perform in the national spotlight, as evidenced by early ticket sales to the upcoming bowl games featuring the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.

Of the Hawkeye’s allotted 8,500 tickets to the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day in Tampa, about 3,000 have been sold just two days after the bowl was announced, said Associate Athletics Director Charlie Taylor.

“Excitement for the Outback Bowl is strong,” Taylor said in an email. “We expect to have a great crowd of Hawkeyes in Florida on Jan. 1.”

ISU Athletics Director Jamie Pollard on Tuesday touted an even larger Cyclone response on Twitter, reporting the university expected by the end of the day to sell out of its 11,000 allotted tickets to the Alamo Bowl Dec. 28 in San Antonio, Texas.

“Should be at 11,000 tickets sold before the end of the day,” he wrote. “Only 1,000 tickets left to sell. Let’s show the good folks in San Antonio that the Cyclones have delivered on ticket sales!”

The Cyclones square off against the Washington State Cougars in their first visit to the Alamo Bowl. The Hawkeyes meet the Mississippi State Bulldogs for the first time in a bowl they’ve gotten to know well — having accepted an invitation to the postseason host five other times since 2004.

A Hawkeye win there could bring Iowa to .500 at the Outback Bowl, countering a 30-3 loss to the University of Florida in 2017 and bringing their record at the postseason event to 3-3.

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Including its trip to Texas later this month, ISU has tallied 14 bowl appearances. This will be the Hawkeye’s 16th bowl game in the last 20 seasons and the 11th January bowl appearance, according to Taylor.

He said Hawk fans have until Friday to place their orders, and season ticket holders get the best available.

This week’s sales so far, he said, are comparable with the number ordered for the Hawkeyes’ last trip to Tampa in 2017 in the first few weeks of the process. About 7,400 tickets ultimately were sold for that bowl game.

The sales are much stronger for the southern locale than for last season’s appearance in the Pinstripe Bowl in New York, when just 13 percent of UI’s allotment was purchased midway through December.

“What we are hearing is that fans are excited to be going someplace warm,” said Duane Jasper, chief executive and owner of Destination Unlimited, an agency offering four bowl-game packages for Hawkeye fans looking for an all-inclusive trip.

Packages range from three- or four-night stays with charter flights included or not. Prices — depending on room size and potential upgrades — range from $995 to $2,500. Jasper said its tickets are nearly sold.

“We had 400 available,” he said. “And of the total, we have 350 gone already.”

Having sold Hawkeye bowl game packages for 30-plus years, Jasper noted the team’s regular-season record affects sales, as does how the Hawkeyes finished the year — on a winning or losing streak.

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But weather and destination definitely play roles, he said, touting upgrades to the Tampa area that have some Iowans excited to visit. A new waterfront complex near the Hawkeye hotel in Tampa opened recently, adding to the draw.

And, Jasper said, Florida has a wealth of Iowa transplants eager for a taste of Kinnick.

“My home team is beyond welcome in my adopted home state of Florida!” one person wrote on the Hawkeyes’ Facebook page. “Go Hawkeyes!”

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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