Bright House Networks Stadium – UCF Knights
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The Bounce House
Somewhere in the sweltering heat of Orlando, Florida there is a prominent metal structure that bounces and shakes with the jumping of its college football fans. This, ladies and gentleman, is The Bounce House. Bright House Networks Stadium is the first official on-campus site of football for the University of Central Florida. The school boasts the largest undergraduate enrollment in the country and encompasses a huge mass of land just 45 minutes from Walt Disney World.
The Knights of Central Florida played football in the Citrus Bowl until 2007, the year of the official move to campus. This is always a big deal to any emerging college football program, but to the community of Central Florida, this was a game changer. The city is void of any professional football, so in addition to the massive student body, there are plenty of football fans that grew up a part of the Knight community. The capacity of 45,000 is an appropriate size while the program continues to build on recent success of the Fiesta Bowl victory versus Baylor in 2014.
Food & Beverage 2
The pulled pork nachos are a great halftime snack, but the food and beverage options are nothing special. There are a few unique offerings including a soft cookie ($3), roasted peanuts ($4) and theater style candy ($4). Combos include a pizza/drink for $10.50, hot dog/drink for $7.50, and roasted peanuts/drink for $7.50. There are better options to get some great food outside of the stadium, so you should plan accordingly.
In the prime of George O’Leary’s reign as head coach (2004-2015), the Bounce House had one of the best atmospheres in the American Athletic Conference. Even when the Knights were finding their stride in Conference USA, the stadium was intimidating when Kernkraft 400 came through the loudspeakers. When the stadium opened in 2007, camera operators struggled keeping the frame steady when the crowd would get rowdy, literally causing the metal stadium to flex in tune with the jumping. Since then, renovations have limited the amount of movement, but the structural design still remains.
There is a lot of sound with this giant metal bowl and it becomes a strong presence in the midst of big moments. Before every kickoff, the student section raises and jingles their keys in perfect unison to create noise. During a big game, the entire crowd joins in on this tradition and creates a really cool effect throughout the stadium.
Bright House Networks Stadium also receives quite a few Thursday night games, which are really fun and different from the routine Saturday schedules of most big programs. A night game in the Bounce House brings extra energy, especially when the program is being highlighted by a major network.
The University of Central Florida campus is absolutely beautiful, located on the east side of Orlando, Florida. Most students and members of the community will say “Welcome to paradise, the City Beautiful.” It truly is an awesome neighborhood at any time of the year. There is plenty to experience in Orlando with a vast amount of tourist attractions located just 45 minutes across town, but don’t overlook the campus. The school boasts impressive amenities due to the highest number of undergraduate admissions in the country.
UCF has a great collection of restaurants and shops within easy walking distance of the stadium. Burger U usually has some good specials on game day and it’s located right next to the stadium. This way, you can still take in the atmosphere if you decide not to purchase a ticket to the game.
Four Rivers Smokehouse is located on University Blvd off campus and offers some of the best barbecue in town. Bar Louie is another good spot to grab a brew before or after the game. You can find that on the corner of Alafaya and University. Tenders has some great fried food and homemade sauce, located a few minutes from Bar Louie.
The fans at UCF bring tailgating to a high level. This collection of fans on a Saturday afternoon may not match the talent of SEC tailgates, but they make it their own. “The Mall” is a large lawn on campus, about a ten minute walk from the stadium. This is where all of the best tailgaters set up their stations for the day. The tailgating is a very social event at UCF, almost the main event. It is not uncommon for students to tailgate with their friends all day and then skip the game. Otherwise, the Bounce House would be selling out every Saturday.
The fans need to figure out how to get everybody involved in the awesome tailgating atmosphere AND game atmosphere.
About an hour before kickoff, fans start to walk together toward the stadium, almost like a soccer procession. The weather usually cooperates and makes for a great game day environment. Blue skies, barbecue, lemonade, cold brews, and great friends usually accompany a UCF tailgate.
The energy inside the stadium is great for a big game. Fans might decide to stay next to the tailgate if the opponent is less than stellar. It usually depends on the schedule, so be sure to schedule a visit for a big conference opponent. The rattling of the keys and jumping in the stands are a part of being a Knight, you’ll soon want to partake in these festivities.
Since the campus is located a good distance from downtown, the traffic for games is usually pretty manageable. The parking can be nightmare due to the heavy volume of people making their way to the area for the tailgate. If you’re willing to make a walk, you can park pretty far away for cheap. Otherwise, you might end up paying more than you want for a normal parking spot. The stadium has plenty of space in the concourses and is built to leave plenty of room in the stands. The lines at concessions can get really long; it’s better to grab food outside the stadium. Make some extra time if you plan on standing in line at halftime.
The stadium is a short drive from 408 (East-West Expressway).
Return on Investment 4
Tickets are really affordable and can be purchased at the box office hours before kickoff. You should spend money on food outside the stadium at the restaurants. UCF football is a reasonably priced experience, especially considering its hold on the local community. You should definitely plan a trip to Orlando for all of the attractions, but also be sure to stop by the Bounce House if your visit coincides with the right Saturday afternoon.
The statue of a knight on his noble steed outside the stadium is worth checking out. Kernkraft 400 gets a point for making everybody jump to the music before kickoff.
The Mall earns a final point here for providing a great tailgating atmosphere.
The stadium experience at the Bounce House is not what it used to be, but it’s also about to grow into something better than it was. This program will continue to build under the new leadership of Head Coach Scott Frost. There is a lot of excitement in visiting some of the best traditions in college football, but it’s also special to visit a campus that continues to build a legacy. The area around the stadium continues to grow with new businesses and opportunities. There will continue to be a demand for quality football in Orlando and with that success brings 44,000 jumping fans into the stadium. Once this is accomplished, there will be no stopping these Knights.
Food and Drink Recommendations
Holiday Inn Orlando University of Central Florida
12125 High Tech Ave
Orlando, FL 32817
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando East-UCF Area
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