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A Traveler’s Guide To The Fiesta Bowl

The Nittany Lions are headed to sunny Glendale, AZ in less than a month to take on Washington in the Fiesta Bowl on December 30. As Penn State’s bowl fate was announced Sunday afternoon, the mad rush began for Penn Staters everywhere to make their travel, housing, and ticket plans a reality. To help you a little with your last-minute logistics frenzy, here’s what you need to think about to get there, stay there, tailgate, and enjoy the game.


First things first: You have to get there somehow. This will no doubt be the most expensive task at hand if you’re from the East Coast, as flights the few days surrounding the December 30 Fiesta Bowl out of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are listed upwards of $600 as of Monday morning.

If you’re trying to save some cash on flights (Who isn’t?) your best bet is probably to stay in Phoenix longer. Leaving later in the week, rather than January 1 or 2, will significantly drop your rates. It’s up to you to reconcile this with the additional housing cost, but it might be worth it if you managed to find somewhere cheap to stay.

Alternatively, here’s the bus route Google recommends to get from State College to Phoenix if you have some time on your hands. It might be a good route to take if you’re interested in making any pit stops along the way. There’s no time like the present to take that cross-country road trip you’ve always dreamed of!

If you’re feeling particularly inclined, the drive from State College to Phoenix is 33 hours. We don’t have a road trip playlist that long, but let us know how it goes if you do decide to take this route.


Once you get there, you need to figure out how you’re going to get into the game. Shockingly, the easiest way is to buy a ticket in advance.


Tickets, which cost $155 (yikes), go on sale online at 7 a.m. Wednesday, December 6. For reference, Washington student tickets for the game are only $50.

Nittany Lion Club Members

Online ticket pre-sale requests are open through 5 p.m. Monday, December 4.

Alumni Association Members

Online ticket pre-sale requests begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday, December 5.

Other Options

Tickets for the Fiesta Bowl start around $70 on StubHub as of Monday morning. Especially if you’re a student, this could drastically reduce your ticket costs. To make sure you sit on the Penn State (home) side, Penn Live published a handy map and list of the sections that’ll be filled with blue & white.


Though you could conceivably fly in and out of Phoenix the same day as the Fiesta Bowl, we wouldn’t recommend it. Especially if history repeats itself, you’re going to want to celebrate, or at least revel in being surrounded by Nittany Lions so far away from Pennsylvania. So you should probably find somewhere to sleep.

This shouldn’t be too hard, as there are plenty of hotels available for decent rates in both Glendale and nearby Cleveland. If you’re staying with a few other people, I feel confident in assuring you your price tag to stay in Arizona will pale in comparison to your flight costs.

Airbnb is another convenient option besides traditional hotels, and can often be even cheaper. Locations range from a single room to an entire house, so you should be able to find something to fit the size of your group.

If all else fails, find someone else with a hotel reservation and an open spot on the floor.


University of Phoenix Stadium does allow tailgating, but it comes with a slew of rules. Most notably, if you do have a car available once you get to Arizona, you won’t be able to park there overnight. There’s also no tailgating allowed after the game, which kicks off at 2 p.m. local time. Here’s the full list of guidelines from the stadium website:

  • All vehicles, including motorcycles and cars with ADA plates/hangtags, must have a valid parking hangtag to enter stadium carparks and other designated hangtag parking areas.
  • No overnight parking in stadium carparks.
  • A parking hangtag is valid for one (1) parking space only. No trailers of any kind are permitted inside the general parking lots. Vehicles taking more than one parking space or parked incorrectly are subject to tow.
  • Fans that wish to park next to friends must arrive at the same time. Parking spots cannot be reserved or saved for fans arriving later.
  • Tailgating in the parking lots must be limited to the area directly in front of or behind the vehicle.
  • Tailgating in empty stalls is prohibited, even with an unused hangtag.
  • Tailgating equipment, such as chairs, tables, propane/ natural gas grills and other items, cannot extend beyond the painted fire lanes for vehicles or sidewalks.
  • Excessive or underage consumption of alcohol will not be tolerated.
  • Please remove all trash from your site and take with you or place in appropriate receptacles.
  • Please put trash in receptacles, recycle, and be kind to our parking lots and common areas.
  • Tailgating ends when the event begins.
  • Tailgating is not permitted after the event.
  • Parking lots close one (1) hour after the conclusion of the event.

Here’s the general event parking map.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa is a senior public relations major and the managing editor of Onward State. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Send questions and comments via e-mail ([email protected]) and follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.


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