Your guide to the 2021 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

North Carolina State to face Kentucky in annual bowl game in Jacksonville

2021 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl (TaxSlayer Gator Bowl)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The North Carolina State Wolfpack and the Kentucky Wildcats will face off in the 76th TaxSlayer Gator Bowl on Saturday.

Kickoff is at noon at TIAA Bank Field, and there are some things fans need to know before heading to the game:

Stadium capacity & social distancing guidelines

Like the Jaguars’ home games this year, the stadium capacity will be at 25% for the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. To ensure fans can still enjoy the event with family and friends, limited capacity seating will be grouped in pods of no more than six. COVID-19 protocols are in place at TIAA Bank Field in downtown Jacksonville, including required face coverings. The TaxSlayer Gator Bowl has also instituted mobile ticketing, cashless concessions and enhanced cleaning protocols to keep fans safe. Click here for more information on stadium policies and procedures.

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Stadium security & parking

Fans attending the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl should download their mobile ticket to their Apple Wallet or Google Wallet to ensure expedited entry at the gates. In addition, all patrons will be required to enter the gates through a metal detector. No food or drink will be permitted from outside of the stadium. The NFL clear bag policy will be in place for the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. Any clear bags measuring 12x6x12 or smaller may be carried into the facility. Ticketholders are permitted to bring seat cushions and blankets inside. Umbrellas are a prohibited item.

TIAA Bank Field stadium gates will open at 10 a.m. ahead of the noon kickoff.

Stadium parking is available on game day for $35 in Lots J and E by credit card only. Stadium lots will open at 9 a.m.

Tailgating is discouraged in TIAA Bank Field parking lots. Additional safety measures include physically-distanced parking. A drop-off area will be available on both the east and west side of the stadium on game day for persons with disabilities. Patrons should enter Lot C or Lot M to access the drop-off area.

Parking is also available on game day at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds. That lot opens at 8 a.m. and $35 parking is available by cash or credit card. Fairgrounds parking can be purchased at jacksonvillefair.com.

Transportation

JTA

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) has bus routes serving the downtown and stadium area and the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center at LaVilla. Schedules are available by visiting www.jtafla.com or by downloading the NextBus app for smart mobile devices.

In addition to JTA bus routes, the Skyway will be open for extended hours on New Year’s Eve, from 6 a.m. Thursday to 1 a.m. Friday. The Skyway is closed on New Year’s Day, but will be open for TaxSlayer Gator Bowl fans on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with service to eight stations on the Northbank and Southbank. The Skyway is complimentary.

Skyway service over the Acosta Bridge will be suspended during the fireworks show on New Year’s Eve. To reduce the spread of COVID-19 and in accordance with city of Jacksonville requirements, all JTA customers, visitors and employees must wear face coverings on board any JTA transit service and at all JTA facilities.

Acosta Bridge lights

This year, the JTA is introducing a new TaxSlayer Gator Bowl tradition, giving both teams the chance to “Win the Bridge.” Utilizing the state-of-the-art LED lighting system, the JTA will light the Acosta Bridge with both team’s colors on Friday. The winner will get the entire bridge lit in their team’s colors on Saturday The Acosta Bridge lights shine each night from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

St. Johns River Taxi

The St. Johns River Taxi will start service at 9 a.m. Saturday to take fans to and from the game. People can buy a round trip/all day River Taxi pass online with a credit card by clicking the link below. Round trip/all day wristbands will only be sold online through Friday and orders can be picked up on any River Taxi boat starting at 9 a.m. Saturday.

On game day, only one-way passes will be sold and it will be cash only -- $10 each way. The River Taxi will be operating multiple boats on game day and restricting passenger capacity on board. The River Taxi will stop at Friendship Fountain Park, Doubletree Hotel, Southbank Marriott Hotel (formerly the Lexington), Metro Park/TIAA Bank Field and the Hyatt Dock, just east of the Main Street Bridge on the Northbank.

For more information on the St. Johns River Taxi, visit www.rivertaxiandtours.com. To purchase an all-day wristband, click here.

Traffic patterns

Traffic patterns leading into kickoff will remain the same. For anyone traveling to the stadium for the game, plan ahead and leave extra time for increased traffic downtown prior to kickoff. Traffic patterns will allow inbound traffic throughout the game until post-game when traffic will be pointed outbound.

Uber and Lyft will have a designated pick-up and drop-off location on both the east and west sides of TIAA Bank Field.

Tickets

Tickets begin at $40 and are available at TaxSlayerGatorBowl.com. Box office opens for new sales, as well as will call, at 9 a.m. on game day.

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl Play & Win

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl Play and Win is a new way to enjoy the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl experience from the stands or at home. On game day, tune into the action on your big screen and go to TaxSlayerGatorBowl.com/PlayandWin on your phone or other connected device to play along. To learn more or pre-register to play, visit TaxSlayerGatorBowl.com/PlayandWin.

Events

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl New Year’s Eve Run

Kick off the game week with the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl New Year’s Eve Run to benefit Gator Bowl Charities. The 5K, which is part of the Jacksonville Grand Prix, can be run in-person or virtually. The in-person 5K race will take runners through downtown Jacksonville starting at 2 p.m. on New Year’s Eve -- the start line is at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Proceeds from the race will support the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl Dream Team in partnership with Dreams Come True. The Dream Team represents a group of 12 local children who are battling life-threatening illnesses. In-person runners should register on-site on race day. Virtual registration is available at 1stplacesports.com.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks

The city of Jacksonville invites residents and visitors downtown to ring in the new year with fireworks over the St. Johns River. The traditional fireworks show will begin at midnight on Jan. 1. Fireworks will be launched from a barge on the river just east of the Main Street Bridge, between the Hyatt and DoubleTree hotels, and high above the river from the Acosta Bridge. Click here for more information.

Music on Main: Mama Blue

Head to Springfield on New Year’s Day for a festive evening featuring a special edition of Music On Main. Springfield Preservation and Revitalization (SPAR) will be hosting Music On Main featuring Mama Blue from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Bring a blanket and picnic or enjoy some of SPAR’s favorite local food vendors. Social distance squares will be marked. Music on Main is located in Susquicentennial Park at 1527 N. Main Street and is free and open to the public.

For more information on the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl or the other events, visit TaxSlayerGatorBowl.com.


About the Author:

Jamal St. Cyr is an award-winning sports anchor who joined the News4Jax sports team in 2019.