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Hawk Nation eyes Miami

BY CHRIS CURTLAND | DECEMBER 07, 2009 7:30 AM

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Local travel agents began feverishly booking fans’ trips to Miami on Sunday night as the news broke that the Hawkeyes will play in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 5, 2010.

Unclear if Iowa would play in the Orange Bowl or Fiesta Bowl until early Sunday evening students, alumni, and other Hawkeye football enthusiasts scrambled to snag the best deals.

Packages are selling for upwards of $2,000.

Until the Hawkeyes officially started seeing orange around 7 p.m., Winebrenner Red Carpet Travel in Iowa City had already booked some 700 Hawkeye fans on a Fiesta Bowl package. Terry Tegen, the company’s general manager, was in the process of switching traveler’s plans late Sunday night.

“It’ll be really crazy here till about midnight, all day tomorrow, and the next day,” he said. “There won’t be any phone lines available.”

In January of this year, Winebrenner took around 850 Hawkeye fans to the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., Tegan said. But for 2010, especially after all the registration for the Fiesta Bowl package, he expects that number to at least double.

The Hawkeyes’ only Orange Bowl game was in 2003, when they lost to Southern California.

“The Orange Bowl is a really big deal, and the Hawks had an unbelievable season,” he said. “They deserve it.”

The season was so spectacular, UI senior Justin Harrill didn’t miss a single home game and bought his bowl ticket before he even knew the Hawkeyes’ destination.

He and 10 friends usually enter Kinnick Stadium as early as possible to snag front row seats in the student section, he said, and in January the same group will “road-trip it” to Florida and then split hotel costs for three to four nights.

The Hawkeyes will go up against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, who received an automatic spot in the Orange Bowl after winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title.

“I’m definitely happy with the selection,” the engineering major said. “I’m predicting a good Hawkeye victory.”

For his trip to Miami, UI senior Mark Bowers is expecting a few days on the beach, a couple chances to check out the nightlife, and a visit to the Miami’s Everglades Safari to see some swamps and alligators. The game will also be fun, he said.

“I’ve been to the Alamo [Bowl] before, but without a doubt, this will be the biggest bowl game I’ve ever been to,” he said. “It’s also the greatest Hawkeye team I’ve ever seen play.”

Like Harrill, Bowers plans to save money by “packing a car as full as it’ll get” and driving to the bowl game. He also plans to book a hotel soon, after finding a good deal to split with friends. His goal is to only spend $50 on lodging.

Travel agencies such as Winebrenner are offering packages that range from about $1,000 to $2,000.

Though driving is the popular means of student travel, the owner of Hawkeye World Travel, Annette Reed, said she has seen a lot of interest in flight plans. The response to this year’s bowl packages has been much larger than recent years, she said.

“So far, we’ve already received several hundred phone calls,” she said. “Hawkeyes are devoted fans. They’ll travel far for their games.”


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