'A special day for the Gators and the fans'


Published: Saturday, January 13, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 13, 2007 at 1:42 a.m.
The Gator football team will get a mega-reception today as tens of thousands of fans pack Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to celebrate Florida's historic BCS National Championship.
The celebration, which begins at noon and is expected to draw up to 80,000 fans, will include comments from Coach Urban Meyer, interviews with members of the newly crowned national championship football team and entertainment from the cheerleaders, the University of Florida marching band and Albert and Alberta, said Martin Salamone, director of marketing for the University Athletic Association.
When asked if there would be any special guest appearances or surprises for fans, Salamone kept mum.
"It's going to be a championship pep rally," Salamone said. "We don't want to give out all the details, but it will be a special day for the Gators and the fans. It's going to be special and it's going to be a lot of fun."
Salamone also pointed out that the event will serve as a final send-off for the football team's 21 seniors.
In some respects, athletic association officials are treating the event as they would any game day, UAA operations director Jack Pfaff said.
Gale Lemerand Drive from University Avenue south to Stadium Road will be closed and traffic is expected to be heavy, Pfaff said.
But aside from some reserved parking spots in the O'Connell Center lot, other spaces are first-come, first-served. Fans are being encouraged to use the Commuter Lot on Gale Lemerand Drive, Parking Garage 9 (located next to Shands), or the Oaks Mall South Parking Lot. RTS is offering free shuttles from these locations starting at 9 a.m.
Those wishing to purchase BCS National Championship merchandise will be able to do so at the Gator Sport Shop located in the north end zone of the stadium. The shop will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. In addition, concession stands will be open during the event, except in the south end zone.
With the football and basketball teams each garnering national championships in 2006, UF seems to be getting used to the victory parties that follow.
In April, fans showed their love for the men's basketball team after it claimed the NCAA championship during a celebration at the O'Connell Center. When the Gator football team, led by Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel, won UF's first-ever national championship in football in 1996, some 60,000 fans packed the football stadium for a celebration similar to today's festivities.
For more information about today's event and everything Gators, visit UAA's Web site online at www.gatorzone.com.
Deborah Ball can be reached at (352) 338-3109 or balld@gvillesun.com

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top