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A Traveler’s Guide To The Outback Bowl

For the first time in nearly three years, Penn State football is returning to the sunshine state.

The Nittany Lions are heading to Tampa, Florida to take on No. 22 Arkansas in the Outback Bowl. Kickoff is set for noon on Saturday, January 1, at Raymond James Stadium.

Now that Penn State is officially headed to Florida, Nittany Nation is ready to travel southbound in mass quantities. Before booking travel accommodations for the holiday season, though, we’re here to help you find the best options available, from transportation to lodging, for the final “family reunion” of the 2021 campaign.

Transportation

Unfortunately for Penn Staters prepared to make the trek to Tampa, the cost of travel will likely be the most expensive part of the bowl game experience. From State College, roundtrip flights start at $626 for a midweek departure and a next day return trip following the New Year’s Day collision.

From Pittsburgh, Penn Staters on the western side of the state would benefit from a slight discount on roundtrip air travel, but would still have to pay upwards of $435 for a ticket to Tampa. But, for residents of both State College and the Steel City, wallets would likely favor from driving to Philadelphia and flying directly to southwest Florida from the opposite side of the state.

Out of Philadelphia International Airport, Frontier offers a non-stop, $257 roundtrip flight to Tampa, which appears to be the most affordable air travel option for local Nittany Lion supporters. Travelers outside of the Keystone state can also find similar deals in Baltimore and Washington D.C.

If you’re aiming for cost efficiency, the 15-hour, 57-minute drive from State College to Tampa is an additional, although exhausting, option. The just over 1,100-mile voyage across seven states would cost you around $150 if your car receives the national average of 25 miles per gallon on the road, assuming the cost of gas hovers around the $3.35 national rate per gallon throughout the trip.

Tickets

While tickets are less expensive than other elements of the trip, a seat in Raymond James Stadium will cost you more than the Nittany Lions’ last postseason matchup in the 2019 Cotton Bowl. Student tickets are priced at a set rate of $80, making the matchup against Arkansas 60% more expensive than purchasing a seat two years ago for the New Year’s six contest in AT&T Stadium.

The presale requests for Nittany Lion Club members and season ticket holders opened on Monday, but tickets for general public patrons will begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday, December 9. Tickets can be purchased directly from Ticketmaster through Penn State’s Outback Bowl allotment at an $80 pre-set face value.

Following the initial public sale onset, additional seats can be found on secondary markets including StubHub and VividSeats. Availability and price will fluctuate leading up to the game on other event-based websites, making Thursday morning’s sale to the general public the surest way to secure a fair deal to the game.

Accommodations

Although you may not be able to find a beachfront property at an affordable clip during your stay in Tampa, there are many low-budget lodging options within walking distance to Raymond James Stadium.

The DoubleTree by Hilton at the Tampa Airport starts at $90 per night around the time of the Nittany Lions’ visit and is just a six-minute drive from the festivities outside the stadium’s perimeter. Other hotels, including the Grand Hyatt and the Holiday Inn, are also located within close proximity to the home of the Buccaneers and range from just over $100 for each night’s stay.

If you’re planning on traveling with a group, renting an Airbnb may be the most cost-effective, and fun, way to take full advantage of the Florida experience. Many properties around the bay area provide space for more than five people, and many have pools on-site. For as little as $110 per person, plus additional cleaning fees, guests can enjoy a four-night stay in cottage-style housing, just minutes to game action.

Tailgating

Following a year of prohibited tailgating festivities ahead of the last installment of the Outback Bowl, tailgating is set to make a return for Penn State’s clash with Arkansas.

Stadium parking lots open at 8 a.m. on gameday, and cost $35 for standard vehicles, $90 for campers, and $120 for buses. Although January 1 will turn into Beaver Stadium south on the morning of the matchup, there are several limitations hindering standard tailgating procedures.

No grilling is allowed in the stadium parking lot, according to the Outback Bowl’s fan information guide. Additionally, mobile ticketing will be the only means of entry into the stadium, and there is a strict no-bag policy at Raymond James Stadium on gameday.

If miscellaneous items are accidentally brought to the point of entry, there are storage lockers available just southeast of Gate C priced at $10 per locker.

Official Penn State Travel Packages

To avoid logistical challenges throughout the trip planning process, Penn State offers bowl-specific travel packages through its travel partner, Anthony Travel.

With the package, fans will receive a three-night stay at the Westin Tampa Bay hotel, a spot at the university-sponsored pregame tailgate, and gameday transportation for $880 per person. Unlike two years ago, the current travel package does not include travel accommodations to Tampa from State College.

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About the Author

Connor Krause

Connor Krause is a junior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania double majoring in journalism and business. He is a lifelong Penn State football and basketball fan and enjoys rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams. In his free time, Connor can be found playing golf or pick-up basketball. You can follow his Twitter and Instagram @ckrause_31.

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