Gators football's strong home 2021 schedule helps boost ticket sales

Alan Festo
Gator Sports

While Florida head coach Dan Mullen wasn’t able to “pack The Swamp” in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he won’t have to wait long this fall to a see a stadium filled with orange-and-blue clad fans.

The Gators host juggernaut Alabama on Sept. 18 in a rematch of last year’s SEC Championship Game in which the Tide won 52-46. And if that game alone isn’t enough to get fans excited, the Gators also will host rivals Tennessee and Florida State this season.

The strong home schedule and a return to full-capacity crowds has resulted in a strong demand for tickets, according to Florida Senior Associate Athletics Director Steve McClain.

McClain said UF has already sold more season tickets for this season than for the entire 2019 season, and that more than 90% of season ticket accounts from 2019 have been renewed.

That compares favorably to the average renewal rate of 87.2% over the last six years, including a rate of 82% in 2018.

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The Gators also have had strong interest in their three-game mini packages. McClain said close to 20,000 of the three three-game packages have been sold, of which two are still available. The Alabama mini plan is sold out, while the Tennessee mini plan is $120 per ticket and the FSU mini plan is $150 per ticket. All plans include the Vanderbilt (Oct. 9) game and the option of either the FAU (Sept. 4) or Samford (Nov. 13) game.

Tickets still available for Tennessee, FSU

Individual game tickets went on sale to the general public June 21 and are still available, however, tickets to the Alabama game are only available through the resale market, with the lowest priced seat Monday on Ticketmaster listed at $159.

Tickets to the Tennessee game on Sept. 25 start at $70 and tickets to the Florida State game on Nov. 27 start at $100.

The Gators will soon begin preparing for their season opener Sept. 4 against Florida Atlantic. Players are scheduled to report Thursday before beginning fall camp Friday. Camp will end Aug. 22 with classes beginning Aug. 23.  

While fan interest is high, COVID-19 still looms large over the upcoming football season as the more transmissible delta variant spreads throughout the state. Despite Alachua County and the state of Florida having more than 50 percent of the population vaccinated against the disease, Florida added 21,683 new coronavirus cases Saturday — its largest one-day increase of the pandemic. On Sunday Florida reported 10,207 people hospitalized with COVID-19, breaking the previous record of 10,170 reported on July 23, 2020.

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“From the onset of the pandemic UF Athletics has worked hand in hand with UF Health and university leadership to navigate COVID and we will continue to do that,” McClain said. “What we have learned through the pandemic is to remain nimble.”

At this point no changes have been made in regards to pre-COVID game day protocols and activities, McClain said.

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium was limited to 20 percent capacity last season due to the pandemic, meaning the largest crowd was about 17,000 in 2020. That resulted in a $54.4 million budget shortfall for the UF Athletic Department. Florida’s operational budget for 2021 is $143.8 million.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.