1st New Year's Day Game Since 1962

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There were customers in line when the University of Minnesota athletic ticket office opened for business Monday. They were there to buy tickets to the Gopher football team’s upcoming bowl game. By mid-afternoon, fans purchased more than 2,500 passes to the game.

Unlike past postseason football trips to Texas, Tennessee and Arizona, this game for Minnesota is in Orlando at the Citrus Bowl. They face No. 16-ranked Missouri. The two teams square off at 1 p.m. eastern time on national television.

The Gophers have been passed over before for more attractive bowl games because of a fan base that’s notorious for not traveling well. Julie Gotham of Blaine says this trip might be different.

“I sure hope so,” she said. “When we have a good team to go see, that makes all the difference in the world. This is a really exciting opportunity and all the stars are lining up.”

The Gophers last played on New Year’s Day in 1962. The U is already advertising special packages for the trip to sunny Florida.

Officials with Creative Charters say about 50 people have already booked their reservations. The company is offering a seven-day, six-night package for football fans. If you get a package deal for the bow game, it will likely cost you anywhere between $1,499 to about $1,8000 if you book through a travel agency.

“I had a gentleman call last night and he and his dad are going. His dad is 91 years old. He was at the last Jan. 1 game that the Gophers played,” said Dorothy Erban with Creative Charters.

Cindy Evans of Minneapolis glanced at the prices when checking out the packages online.

“Yikes! I don’t have disposable income so that wouldn’t work for me much,” she said.

For fans who are booking their trip through a travel agent, it should be noted that the price of the packages includes transportation and hotel costs. They do not include tickets to the bowl game. The University of Minnesota Alumni Association is also offering travel packages to the Citrus Bowl.

What Evans does have is time. She’s now retired and a trip to Florida for Gopher football on New Year’s Day is pretty attractive.

“I think I would have done it for other ones,” said Evans about joining the Gophers on bowl trips. “This year, it seems like I’m able to have the time to do it.”

Evans remembers the Gophers playing in the Rose Bowl back in the 1960s and it excited about seeing them play on Jan. 1 again.

Longtime Gopher fan Jack Winslow was another of the fans who solidified their New Year’s plans.

“I’m finally going to get to go to another big one, again,” said Winslow said.

After seeing the Gophers win the 1962 Rose Bowl, the decision to follow the team, once again, was easy.

“I promised my daughter, if we got a good bowl game, I would take the whole family –all four of us,” he said.

Deciding where to sit and how to get there was more of a challenge.

“My son-in-law is on the computer looking up accommodations and air flights,” Winslow said.

Getting to the game

Fans not wanting to search on their own can choose one of several travel packages put together by the University of Minnesota Alumni Association.

“We’ve done it historically, and we know fans want to go to the game,” said Daniel Gore, VP of communications for the University of Minnesota Alumni Association. “They want to support the team, and they also want to connect with other alumni.”

As of Monday afternoon more than 200 fans had purchased the air inclusive trip, which comes complete with airfare, hotel, transportation, and tailgate for $1,754 per person.

“This is the official package, and part of what makes that exciting–not only are you traveling with a bunch of other Gopher fans and alumni, [but] we also have the amenities to go along with that,” Gore said.

Another package option includes a land-only trip, offering hotel, transportation and tailgate, for $924.

Fans can even buy a ticket to the Gopher tailgate for $69 per person.

“It is a big deal and it’s important for fans,” Gore said. “It’s important to the team, the institution and alumni.”

But there are less expensive options for fans looking to save.

Loni Goettig of Carrousel Travel said flexible travel dates and different destination cities can lead to savings.

“Orlando, Florida,” she said, “that part of the state has so many options. There’s a lot of different cities you can fly into.”

But Goettig does advise fans to start buying their airfare now, rather than waiting with the hope of a better deal.

“When the seats are gone, the seats are gone,” Goettig said. “The closer you get, the higher price you go.”

These trips do not include tickets to the game, which range in price from $65-$245.

For more on the U of M Alumni Association travel packages go to its website.

Learn more about the airfare through Carrousel Travel log here.

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