6,000 Gators roar for a win


Gator fans line up to enter the Gator Jamboree in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Sunday.

TRACY WILCOX/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Monday, January 8, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 8, 2007 at 12:27 a.m.

Facts

Where to watch

  • THE O'CONNELL CENTER: Viewing the BCS National Championship Game at the O'Dome is free and is open to UF faculty, staff and students with a UF ID card. Each cardholder can bring one guest. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. but expect long lines to have formed well before then.
  • THE REITZ UNION: If you don't have a UF ID card, you're not out of luck on campus. Projections screens will show the game at two venues at the Reitz Union: the Grand Ballroom and the Orange and Brew; both open at 6 p.m. Admission is free.
  • SPORTS BARS: Better check ahead at your favorite locale. Some sports bars have special policies Monday night. Gators Dockside, for instance, is taking reservations. Gainesville Ale House is allowing only parties of four or more to occupy booths.
    Rules for fans Keeping it fun but safe is the motto for officers patrolling Gainesville during tonight's National Championship Game.
    Almost 200 additional officers will be on duty on campus and in the city as fans crowd around televisions to see the Gators and the Buckeyes square off.
    Officers want everyone to have a good time in the city. But some rules are in effect for fans:
  • Ben Hill Griffin Stadium will not be open. Tailgating also will be discouraged on campus.
  • Fans can watch the game at two locations on campus. The O'Connell Center is being reserved for University of Florida ID holders including students, faculty and staff. Alcohol is not allowed at the O'Connell Center. Anyone is allowed to view the championship game at the Reitz Union.
  • A decision to close a section of W. University Avenue for celebrating fans will not be made by police until late tonight and will depend on the game's outcome, according to Gainesville Police.
  • Parking is prohibited from the 1300 to 2200 block of W. University Avenue and the 1600 to 1800 block of NW 1st Avenue from 7 p.m. today to 7 a.m. Tuesday, police said. Vehicles parked in these areas during the ban will be towed.
  • State laws and city ordinances regarding alcohol use remain in effect. State law requires a person to be 21 or older to drink alcohol, and open containers of alcohol are not allowed outside a bar, restaurant or private residence under city ordinance.
    - Lise Fisher

  • SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - The West was wild on the eve of the BCS National Championship, drawing University of Florida fans from all over Sunday for the "Gator Jamboree" pep rally here.
    An estimated 6,000 fans packed the streets leading into the rally, and then dispersed into a converted parking lot where cheerleaders and dancers revved up the rabid crowd. The championship game, which is held more than 2,000 miles from UF's home turf of Gainesville, has drawn some of the most die-hard Gators in the country.
    Nicole Gross, a 27-year-old Ocala resident, went to great lengths to give her trip to Arizona the same feel as a home game. She shipped four battery-powered Gator coolers, which serve as equal parts scooters and ice chests, from Ocala to Arizona.
    By early Sunday evening, the coolers had already been depleted of all their "cargo."
    "I feel like a college kid every time I get on one of these," said Gross, seated atop the cooler and buzzing about the street.
    Gross, who graduated from UF in 2003, was a springboard diver for the Gators. In 1996, when the Gators won their last National Championship in football, Gross said she hadn't yet caught the Gator fever. So, in many ways a win today would be her first championship as a fan.
    "It would mean everything in the world to me," said Gross, who was sporting a white fur Gator bucket hat Sunday.
    Hopes are high for Gator fans, even though the team enters today's game as the underdog.
    Brent Whitfield and his friend Blake Ulrich, both 28, traveled from West Palm Beach via Las Vegas to see the game. After a night of gambling Saturday, the two say they feel good about the Gators' chances even though the odds are against their team.
    "Anyone is going to be happy we had a chance to be here," Whitfield said. "But nobody's going to be happy if we lose."
    UF President Bernie Machen, who appeared in high spirits Sunday, warmed up the crowd with a blunt assessment of his hopes for today's game. After telling the media all week that Ohio State University was a "great team, all that crap," Machen stirred up the crowd's passions with some last minute negative campaigning.
    "We don't like Ohio State," he said, clad in a blue sweater and a long beaded necklace. "We're going to beat Ohio State, win a National Championship. Go Gators!"
    Jack Stripling can be reached at 374-5064 or Jack.Stripling@gvillesun.com.

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