Football is a popular pastime in the State of Florida.
On a Saturday many years ago, we arrived in Englewood to visit my wife’s family. After lunch, I asked my father-in-law why the neighborhood was so quiet. He said that everyone was indoors getting ready for the game between the Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles.
That was my first introduction to Florida’s love affair with the gridiron sport. On any weekend during the season you can either find a game to attend or there are countless games on television.
Friday nights are usually high school football nights. My recollection of high school games, was playing in front of a few friends and family. But, in Florida, high school games are well-attended. And, they are a lot of fun.
A quick glance at the local sports pages will provide the necessary information as to game times and locations.
The Florida Gators were the national champions of College Football in 2008. How great is that?
Their National Championship in 2008 was the school’s third since 1996. The Gators also claimed national supremacy in the NCAA in 2006
There are several College teams in Florida. There are a seven Division I football teams in the Sunshine State. Two of these teams are close to Englewood. They are the South Florida Bulls from the University of South Florida in Tampa and the University of Central Florida Knights who play in the Orlando area.
To give you an idea about how popular and the strength of the rivalry between the various schools is the Englewood area a check of various websites and newspapers reveals that certain pubs in the area only show the televised games of a particular college football team. So, if you are a Gators fan (which I am) don’t drop into a pub that features Seminoles games. You may find that you are not very welcome!
But, the main rivalry is between the Miami Hurricanes, Florida State Seminoles and the University of Florida Gators. These teams are usually all ranked in the Top Twenty teams and the competition between these schools and their fans is intense. In fact, since 1993, the Seminoles have captured two national titles (1993 and 1999) and the Hurricanes have one championship (2001).
A trip to a Gators game on a Saturday is not a difficult trek from Englewood. The Gators home stadium, affectionately known as the Swamp is located in the Gainesville area of northern and central Florida, not far from I-75. The directions that I have provided below illustrate how easy it is to get to a Gators game.
One word of caution: Before going to a Gators game call ahead several weeks before the game to reserve tickets. (This warning should be followed for any college or professional game for this sport in Florida.)
Directions from Englewood:
- Take I-75 north to Exit 76 (Newberry Road/Rte 26)
- Turn Right (east) at traffic light (Newberry Road)
- After approximately 7 miles turn right on Gale Lemerand Drive
- The Swamp (also known as Ben Hill Griffin Stadium) is on the left hand side of the road.
Sundays are the usual game days in the NFL.
In Florida, there are three venues, Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa that feature NFL games.
Going to a game is a lot of fun. The football game is of course, the main reason for going to the stadium, but everything surrounding the events of the game are a lot of fun. Make sure that you get to the stadium early to enjoy the tailgate parties.
The Tampa Buccaneers play at Raymond James Stadium. I have provided directions from Englewood. But once again an important caution, don’t look for tickets on game day. Instead, reserve tickets, weeks or even months in advance, if you can. These tickets are almost impossible to purchase.
Directions from Englewood to Raymond James Stadium
- Take northbound I-75 to I-275 North
- Follow I-275 north to N. Dale Mabry
Whether you are going to a high school game, a college game or to an NFL match, football is a great form of sports entertainment.
And because Englewood is so close to so many football venues in Florida, you have to Enjoy Englewood Florida!