Ohio State University football fans are cool to the idea of visiting Florida in early January for the Gator Bowl, following a dismal year for the program.
Travel pros in the Columbus area tell The Columbus Dispatch that business is slow for charters and other package deals for the Jan. 2 game against Florida in Jacksonville.
"This is our 29th year of selling bowl packages, and this is one of the slowest ones we've ever had," said George Kun, of George Kun Travel. "Certainly, the problems this season and this last piece of negative news are going to put a bad taste in everyone's mouth."
Travel agents are lamenting lost bowl travel revenues that are usually a big part of their annual business. And next year, there will be none at all, because of the one-year bowl ban imposed recently by the NCAA because of a memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal that led to a coaching change.
"Typically, a bowl game is 25 to 30 percent of my annual revenue," said Ike Reynolds of Reynolds Travel.
He said he usually would have 140 travelers or more for a bowl trip, but so far has only 50 committed.
The Columbus Airport Authority says there are six chartered airplanes - four of them carrying the team and OSU band - booked to fly to Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl. There were 10 last year for the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, and 28 the previous year to fly to Los Angeles for the Rose Bowl.
The Buckeyes had a lackluster season on the field and head to a bowl match-up of two 6-6 teams. It's a rematch of sorts of the BCS title game won five years ago by Florida, then coached by OSU's new coach Urban Meyer.
Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com
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