This venue was the beginning of our most extensive journey to date. A five day-five games in three cities
stroll through the Southeastern U.S.. We were finally beginning to make a dent in our plans!
Alltel Stadium was opened in August 1995 after a huge renovation was done to the old Gator Bowl that sat
on the same site. The top of the upper deck on one side the Gator Bowl was completely demolished, rebuilt
and refurbished into the Alltel Stadium as we know it. The primary function of this facility is to serve as the
home field for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, however it is also home to such events as the Toyota Gator
Bowl and many other college football games such as the annual Georgia/Florida clash, also
known as " The Worlds Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party". And coming up in February of 2005, AllTel Stadium
will be the host of Super Bowl XXIX.
This facility sits within walking distance of the St. John's River and is a short stroll away from The Riverwalk,
a fantastic entertainment area a ways up the river with plenty of places to eat, drink, and be merry. If you
have time feel free to catch a riverboat that takes you up and down the river with spectacular views of
downtown Jacksonville. Make sure you drop by Jacksonville Landing, where at night the view of the bridges
decked out in neon lighting looks absolutely spectacular!
Getting to the venue
AllTel is set across the St. John's River from downtown Jacksonville and is accessible by mostly by car from
Alt US 1. Parking is plentiful but as we found out in our first visit can be rather expensive, sometimes in the
30$ range. But here in Jacksonville there is a much cheaper transportation alternative in the form of a water
taxi that shuttles fans from downtown across the river to a port just a football field or so away from stadium
grounds. At four dollars one way this service isn't too shabby and it remains in service for two hours after
the game has ended (Though the postgame lines are long and probably the biggest reason for that).
Outside the venue
The area around AllTel has undergone some significant changes since our last visit here in '99. Gone are
the Jacksonville Coliseum and Wolfson Park, two minor league sports venues that were in close proximity
to AllTel, and up go the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena and the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
These two state of the art faciltiies do well in complementing AllTel as well as giving the sports complex a
more modern look.
Still in place is a Veterans Memorial just north of AllTel, and a ferocious looking jaguar statue greets all
visitors as they approach the stadium's main entrance.
The Stadium - Concourses
Plenty of ramps and escalators will take people to their proper concourses at AllTel. Some major points of
interest at AllTel- a large mural and exhibit display on the lower concourse named "Decades of the NFL"
which has plenty of photos and writing describing the long and storied history of the NFL through the 20's,
30's,40's all the way on up to today, and it appears that they left the old girders and ceilings of the old Gator
Bowl intact to give this area sort of a retro feel.
In one end zone is a major party area known as "The Bud Zone". When the place is empty or sparsely
populated its very easy to see all of the flat screen TV's, bars, beer kiosks, standing tables, etc. etc. But
when a game is in progress, the place is a mob scene. It took us a while, but we were able to make out way
through there under some garage doors which open up to the outside and provide a view of the game(if
you can see over six rows of standing people). Just outside the BudZone is an interactive sports television
studio where a fan can try his best to be a sports anchor.
Aqua/Turqouise colored seats for 73,000 are in this seating area which is fully enclosed with a second
deck overlooking each sideline. A scoreboard with a sizable video board overlooks each end zone. And LED
boards that are put to good use....say, in providing out of town scores are located on the balcony of the
upper deck on each sideline.
In preparation for the Super Bowl AllTel has added some major improvements to the east end zone. There
a premium seating area is sandwiched by two plaza levels with a view of the field. The lower one known as
the Bud Zone(see above) and an outdoor area above which was a much more relaxing place to hang out
and drink with the football game as a backdrop.
Lots of good eats here at AllTel! Outback Steakhouse, A1-A Seafood, Austin BBQ Pit and more, definitely
not your ballpark dreck kind of selections to be found here. We should make special mention of the A1--A
stand. This is named after the local highway which straddles the beaches of Florida's east coast, and this
stands offers the area's seafood specialties - crab legs, conch fritters and grouper sandwiches. Very nicely
done! No major team store here but there are four smaller walk-in shops at the four corners of the lower
level along with several more kiosks throughout the venue.
The Touchdown Club is your basic ooh aah (actually, more like....wheee?!?!) club lounge with two levels on
each sideline and a beautiful atrium lobby and staircase at the entrances, (Raise index finger and twirl it
around now) with carpeted lounges and bar with mixed drinks, nice photos on the walls.....stop me if you've
heard this all before.....OK I will. Two levels of suites on each sideline along with the new suites in the south
None to be seen in the seating bowl. for our return visit, though, the club was celebrating their tenth
anniversary season and had a nice pregame ceremony featuring anyone from Tony Boselli down to some
schlep who caught two passes and returned a kick as a Jaguar....no, not kidding on that one.
Down below in the lower concourse one will find a mural celebrating the club's division titles as part of a
larger mural called "Decades of the NFL".
Extra point....On our official visit in December of '99 we saw a Thursday prime time special between a
fantastic Jaguar team and a so so Steelers club and as expected the Jags rolled to a 20-6 victory. Our
return visit was also a primetime special.....in December.....against the.....STEELERS!. Though this time the
Steelers were the big stud team and the Jags were struggling. It was a hard fought game, but a
Steelerssfield goal in the final seconds sealed a 17-16 win.
Extra point....Steelernation was in abundance on our return visit, vowing to be back for the Super Bowl. We
Fumble ... And what is up with this "no camera bags allowed inside" policy! We're all for tightened security at
sports venues in the age we live in, but women carry handbags in that are much larger. So we do the u-turn,
find a discreet location, cram the bag in the pants where the sun don't shine, and proceed to make our way
back in to the stadium. Uggghhh! Customer service guys!!! This policy sucks!
Fumble....temps were in the 30's on our first visit, and we were not prepared. This is Florida!!! What the
Extra Point....a bunch of folks in our section on our return visit seem to have their own special chant when
the Jags get a first down. They all follow this ringleader who shouts out "What time is it???" and everyone
participating responds "Time to move the chains!". Then everyone chants "Move the chains, move the
chains, move the chains, move".
Fumble....for the total lack of originality in stealing that chant mentioned above from Baltimore's M&T Bank
The score for AllTel Stadium is low for this reason - despite the job they did in reconstituting this venue into
an NFL stadium, there is still too much of the old Gator Bowl in play here. Concourses are horrible to
navigate, and despite the addition of new scoreboards and that mobbed Bud Zone, it is still just an ordinary
stadium. Don't let us dissuade you from visiting here, however. Beautiful city, nice weather, lots to see and
do. We'd like to come back --- Jacksonville Suns AA baseball in their sweet little ballpark, or hmm... an
NCAA basketball sub regional in March 2006. Sign us up!
Food and team store 8
Scoreboard and electronics 6.5
Fan support 4
Location and neighborhood 6.5
Banners and history 7
In game entertainment 4
Concourses/fan comfort 6
Bonus: Tailgate scene 2, Water taxi 1, Bud Zone 1, Jacksonville Landing 1