For true Orange & Blue fans it will take a lot of green


Published: Friday, September 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.

Thousands of Florida football fans will convene in Gainesville this weekend for food, fun and football, and it won't be cheap. Some of the fans will come from far, some from nearby. How much each spends depends on a number of factors. All that's known for sure is that it's all good for Gainesville. We looked at a foursome of fans to find out what a Gator spends:

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University of Florida season ticket holder David Sapp, 53, of Pensacola, in his RV, with his wife, Angie, 47, his son, Kevin, 13, and his daughter, Amy, 11. The Sapps are die-hard Gator fans and travel to see all of Florida's home games, and even some of the away games.

KATIE KING/Special to The Sun

THE SAPP FAMILY

David Sapp is a Florida alumnus who also earned his law degree at UF. He is now a practicing attorney in Pensacola. David and his wife Angie along with son Kevin, 13, and daughter Amy, 11, will attend the Florida-Southern Mississippi season opener, leaving this morning from their home in Northwest Florida and driving a Winnebago Adventurer to Gainesville. They will tow a car and park the Winnebago in High Springs for the season.

TOTAL COST: $892

  • TRAVEL: It costs the Sapps about $175 to drive the 6-miles-to-a-gallon Winnebago to Gainesville today. The trip home is a lot less expensive in their Acura MDX, about $55 with today's prices. During the season, it takes another tank of gas to run the Winnebago's generator.

    Trip tab: $240

  • FOOD AND BEVERAGES: Angie brings most of the food and beverages for meals and tailgating, but the family will hit the town Friday night for a nice meal at Outback or a similar type of restaurant.

    Trip tab: $200

  • TICKETS: The contribution level for the Sapps is $350 per seat for the four seats. Tickets this year are priced at $35 each, up from $28 last season, which means the Sapps pay $140 for four game tickets plus a pro-rated contribution of $200 per game.

    Trip tab: $340

  • PARKING: Part of the contribution package is a parking pass for the Winnebago in an on-campus lot. The fee to store the house on wheels is $35 per month. In September, UF plays three home games. We'll do the math.
    Trip tab: $12, rounded off
  • SHOPPING: No matter how much Gator gear a family has, coming to Gainesville is always an excuse to get more. "We always buy something," David Sapp said.
    Trip tab: $100

    LORI AVERITT

    Lori Averitt is the president of the Jacksonville Gator Club and works in advertising at St. John and Partners. Her trips for the games are down and back from Jacksonville, past the Gator flags and boiled peanut stands along U.S. 301, through the speed traps and love bugs and into orange and blue heaven. She usually leaves Jacksonville six hours before game time.

    TOTAL COST: $175.35

  • TRAVEL: Averitt usually drives, wheeling her Trailblazer with three friends on board. Because she drives, she pays for the gas but that may change with prices rising.

    Trip tab: $27.50

  • FOOD AND BEVERAGES: For Saturday's game, because it's at 6 p.m. the group will stop in Starke for a fast food lunch: McDonald's or Wendy's or Checkers. So many choices. At the tailgate? "We bring at least one meal to cook at the tailgate - burgers and dogs or steaks. We split the cost of that food, usually six ways," she said. On the way home, it's leftovers or another stop in Starke for fast food. Throw in $20 or so for adult beverages.

    Trip tab: $37.50

  • TICKETS: Averitt has tickets in the lower south end zone, a pair for which she pays a booster price of $150 per seat, plus the cost of a ticket. "It's not mandatory, but I have to pay it to get Florida-Georgia tickets," she said. One of those tickets will be purchased by a friend.

    Trip tab: $77.85.

  • LODGING: Even after late games, the group heads home, which is only 90 minutes away once you escape the after-game traffic.

    Trip tab: Zero

  • PARKING: Averitt arrives about four hours before the game and finds free parking on a grassy lot at Center Drive and Museum Road on campus. Sweet.

    Trip tab: Zero

  • SHOPPING: She usually picks up something, and this year Averitt plans to make sure she buys a program at every game because of the trading cards that will be included.
    Trip tab: $32.50

    KRISTEN AND BARRY CRAIG

    Both Kristen and Barry work out of their home in Palm Beach Gardens. Kristen is a recruiter, and Barry works for Mitsubishi's nuclear division where he is in sales and marketing. "We prepare ourselves financially for the football season," said Kristen. "We make sacrifices in other parts of our lives so that we can see our Gators play. What can we say? We love the Gators that much." They will drive their Volvo to Gainesville for Saturday's season opener.

    TOTAL COST: $1,128.28

  • TRAVEL: Gas was an issue this week because of Ernesto. But assuming they can get enough eventually to get out of town, it will cost about $100 for the trip here and back. Using the turnpike, tolls add another $30 to the journey.

    Trip tab: $130

    LODGING: When the game is at night, the Craigs usually stay in Ocala so they can avoid the two-night minimum. For day games, they stay at the Hilton or the Sweetwater Branch Inn when they can get in. But this week they're trying something different by staying at the Fairfield Inn and forking over the money for a two-night minimum.

    Trip tab: $358.28 with tax

  • FOOD AND BEVERAGES: Because they are staying for two nights, the cost will rise. But the good news is that they won't be struggling to find a place open late Saturday night in Ocala. The Craigs are fans of Amelia's downtown when they have clients with them and love to hit David's for the barbecue. Then there is "tailgate food, turnpike food and lots of Starbucks for the early morning drives."

    Trip tab: $350

  • PARKING: The Craigs get two reserved spots at St. Augustine Catholic Church, the second one for either a tent or friends. The cost is $850 for the year, divided by seven home games. "I realize that this sounds excessive, but our spots are reserved, we have an air-conditioned facility to use to stay cool/dry, TVs to watch other games and clean bathrooms with toilet paper," Kristen said.

    Trip tab: $120 per game

  • TICKETS: Because they are not season-ticket holders, the price of their tickets depends on the popularity of the game. They have spent as much as $350 each on tickets and usually budget about $200 per ticket per game. This week, they catch a break because a friend has two at face value.

    Trip tab: $70

  • SHOPPING: When the Craigs vacation at Amelia Island, they take a four-hour detour to Gainesville to shop for Gator garb. Still, each game weekend means trips to the Gator Shop and other retail outlets. "It's not a matter of need, but a matter of want," Kristen said.
    Trip tab: $100

    JOHN BERRY

    John Berry, who lives in Lansing, Mich., has been going to Florida games ever since his dad took him as a baby. Even though his job (currently executive director of the state bar association in Michigan) has taken him all over the country, he still makes it back for most of the games. This weekend, he's combining business with pleasure as he is preparing for a new job with the Florida Bar.

    TOTAL COST: $664.97

  • TRAVEL: Usually, Berry flies to Jacksonville, but for this trip he flew to Tallahassee on Thursday to work. He got a good deal on Delta - $279.21 - and rented a car from Alamo for $24.30 a day.
    Trip tab: $352.11
  • TICKETS: Berry has two seats in the north end zone high in the stands in the section called the Sunshine Seats. Although his wife Barbara usually accompanies him to games, she's with the couple's grandchildren in Dallas. The contribution level for the Sunshine Seats is $150 for the seven games plus the cost of the two tickets.

    Trip tab: $112.86

  • PARKING: Berry arrives early for games. Really early. "I'm a fanatic about it," he said of his search for free parking. Usually, that means on the street near J.J. Finley Elementary School just six blocks from the stadium.

    Trip tab: Zero

  • LODGING: Although he has paid for hotel rooms in the past, Berry plans to stay with friends this weekend.

    Trip tab: Zero

  • FOOD AND BEVERAGES: "I love to eat at Joe's and was sorry the other one closed," Berry said. "I like a place many may not mention and that is Max Burgers. Love going there. I go anywhere to get BBQ or seafood. My heart broke when Captain Louie's on 13th Street closed. It had been there since well before I was born and loved to get a box lunch seafood dinner with great hush puppies." As for tailgating, Berry usually bounces around friends' parties.

    Trip tab: $150

  • SHOPPING: His philosophy is that you can never have too many Gator hats.
    Trip tab: $50 - Pat Dooley, Sun sports writer Joe fan chart There are about 60,000 season-ticket holders for 2006 Florida football. The average season-ticket holder buys 3.57 tickets per package. Of the 16,815 purchasers, 1,450 come from out of state. The top 10 by county:
    Alachua: 3,184 Duval: 1,884 Orange: 1,106 Hillsborough: 956 Pinellas: 781 Polk: 640 Marion: 630 Seminole: 458 Clay: 391 Volusia: 374
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