Gator fans finally arriving


Florida quarterbacks Chris Leak (12) and Tim Tebow work out together before the BCS national championship football game between Florida and Ohio State in Glendale, Ariz., on Monday, Jan. 8, 2007. Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen is at right rear.

Ted S. Warren/AP
Published: Monday, January 8, 2007 at 8:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 8, 2007 at 8:21 p.m.

GLENDALE, Ariz. It's two hours before the BCS title game Monday night and the inside of University of Phoenix stadium is buzzing.

That is an unusual, but electrifying sight. It almost feels as though kick-off is minutes away. It is two hours away.

Fans arrived here early Monday, spilling through the doors two hours before kickoff, filling concourses and clogging concession lines. Of course, one reason may be the fact beer is served inside the stadium.

Outside, the mix of Ohio State and Florida banners flying through the air was also a unique sight. Fans looking for tickets filled the parking lots. One couple held a sign which read: "My girlfriend said she will marry me if I get her a ticket to the game."

The skies above the stadium resemble an air show. Three hot air balloons soared over the stadium under deep blue skies. Four helicopters hovered stationary above parking lots while several small airplanes pulling advertising banners buzzed past.

Surprisingly, the roads around the stadium were nearly empty a few hours before gametime. Looks like fans arrived here pretty early.

It seems the Gators fans finally arrived. Florida fans seemed nearly absent here for most of last week and early last weekend.

A local Phoenix FOX affiliate noted the absence of Florida fans during a 10 p.m. newscast Thursday when they reported live from "The Swamp" bar in Phoenix. The bar is designated as the official party spot for Gators fans.

A reporter did a live spot from the scene Thursday night, noting there were just two Gators fans in the entire bar. The entire news team seemed to get a laugh out of the lack of orange and blue here.

But what they didn't note is that many Gators fans spent the weekend in Las Vegas and drove in to Phoenix on Sunday.

I talked to several Gators fans who were in Vegas and they said the city was overflowing with orange and blue. Some were even holding signs looking for tickets. This, mind you, is 350 miles away from Phoenix.

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