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Whenever you hear the words “Gator Bowl” uttered the first place your thoughts go is to excitement, screaming fans and a massive stadium. Well few people know how this important annual event started, or even when. The Gator Bowl has seemed to always be there, and sports fans have gone out of their way each year to make it a special day. Out of all the college bowls the Gator Bowl is the sixth oldest, placing it among the most important in college football. It began in 1946, and its full name was the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl, after the bowls sponsors; Konica Minolta, a Japanese manufacture of office supplies and equipment. However the time on the sponsor agreement ended just recently after the 2009 game ended. When the bowl originally started in 1946 it was expected to sell out the small stadium for its debut; however the game only drew in 7,362 during the first game, a huge disappointment during the Wake Forest verse South Carolina game. However, the Gator Bowl seemed to pick up pace and popularity in 1948 when nearly 17,000 people showed up for a surprising tie between Georgia and Maryland. In a surprising turn of events the stadium became a regularly sold out event by the 1970s, bringing in fans from all over the U.S. to fill the stadium with numbers from 60,000 to 70,000, insuring the future and popularity of the Gator Bowl. In 1945 as the Gator Bowl began to take its course in the Florida communities a non for profit group known as the Gator Bowl Association or GBA for short was formed. The GBA's mission statement is to “Provide Northeast Florida with the very best in college athletics and related activities in order to maximize positive impact on the area's economy, national image and community pride.” This large organization has overseen the events and activities for the Gator Bowl every year. With over 700 volunteers and nearly a hundred sponsors and club members the contribution of the GBA has been immense. The success of the Gator Bowl over the years has been an unexpected turn since the negatively influence of the 1946 original bowl. The teams that have made the most appearances over the last fifty so years are Clemson, Florida, Florida State, North Carolina and Georgia Tech. The Gator Bowl is held at the Everbank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, this fun and energetic 65 year tradition is something every college football fan looks forward to, and game day can be expected to be a day of excitement. The most recent game featuring Florida State and West Virginia ended in a 33-21 lead with Florida State emerging victorious. In attendance were an astonishing 84,129 fans, a new record that seems to be broken every year. The Gator Bowl is something that intends to stick around, and with so much effort put into making the day and game something worth getting excited about its easy to see why this has become a fan favorite and annual tradition. Whether you're in the Everbank Stadium or watching it from home with friends and family, the Gator Bowl is an event that everyone can participate in, and with its sixty five years of history and guaranteed entertainment you can enjoy every moment of it, but only once a year!

 

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