By Jerry Kutz
On a football game weekend, Doak Campbell Stadium becomes the Disney World of North Florida, a Magic Kingdom, where people of all ages become kids again. It’s a magical place where fans of all ages can enjoy common experiences and make memories to last a lifetime.
And admission is affordable.
For about the price of one ticket to the Magic Kingdom, Florida State is offering a four pack that includes four tickets to a game, four drinks, four hot dogs and 10 percent off souvenirs at the gift shop within the stadium. For just $84 ($21 per person) a family of four or just four good friends can have a full weekend of fun.
And like Disney World, the price of admission includes free concerts, parades, entertainment and fireworks.
“The park” opens on the weekend of September 13-14 when the Seminoles 2013 home football season kicks off against Nevada. The weekend fun includes a free Friday Night Block Party and concert, a free Saturday Street Party in the new College Town before the game, a parade from College Town to the Stadium, led by a spirit group of the Marching Chiefs and hour before kickoff, and two free concerts in College Town after the game. Fans will enjoy a day of tailgating at the park, the color and pagentry of Osceola and Renegade, the Marching Chiefs and Cheerleaders and feel the energy of the crowd as it cheers on its top 10 football team.
Seminole fans use the park to connect with friends and multiple generations of family. Tailgate parties, plain or fancy, become family reunions, company picnics and reasons for college friends to stay in touch over the years, watching each other’s families grow.
Doak Campbell becomes a place and a time in our busy life where family and friends schedule quality time together. Whether they agree upon one game per year or all seven weekends, the dates are circled and the plans are made for whose going to bring the food and set up the tailgate games. The pregame rituals and recipes, plain or fancy, create common experiences as well as shared memories as much as the games themselves.
When Renegade comes onto the field, with Osceola carrying the flaming spear, it draws all of our attention and when he plants the spear in Doak we all feel something in common.
If you don’t believe the statistics, which say 100 percent of Seminole fans love this unique Seminole tradition, just watch the eyes of the people you bring to the game for proof.
And then there’s the action and the drama of the game itself which often features more unexpected twists and turns than Space Mountain. The quarterback lofts the ball into the air, the receiver catches it for a Seminole touchdown, and suddenly you and your family and friends are jumping up and down like kids at a birthday party, screaming merrily, hugging and high-fiving each other.
And you wonder, when was the last time I enjoyed an emotional moment like that with my friends and or family?
The University of South Carolina recently ran an advertisement of a Gamecock family with their two children at a ballgame, screaming in unison, cheering their team on. The headline over the photo said: “Ten years from now they won’t remember this game if they had watched it on television.”
What you won’t get at a movie theatre, or by watching FSU football on HDTV, is the following:
Eyes wide, a young child in the arms of her parents watches curiously as the Appaloosa named Renegade trots towards her. A radiant smile erupts as the man riding the horse, slams the burning spear into the ground.
It’s an impression that lasts a lifetime.
A young boy, wearing a little league ball cap and t-shirt, gasps as Jameis Winston slings a perfect pass to Rashad Greene for a touchdown and then feels a warmth in his heart when the players embrace in celebration.
It’s a dream created.
Your son, daughter, spouse — or a complete stranger — giving you a huge hug after an exciting and unexpected moment.
It’s a bonding experience.
The look on a child’s face as they look up at a football player signing an autograph for them after a ballgame.
It’s a role model created.
And like Disney World, which drives the Central Florida economy, Doak Campbell Stadium is the Magic Kingdom for Tallahassee Business as upwards of 40,000 Seminole fans make Tallahassee a destination weekend seven times a year, driving revenue, employment and sales tax for our community.
It’s a dollar earned.
Game day is family and friends turning tailgate parties into reunions, sharing their passion with old friends and new, and reminiscing.
It’s an experience shared.
And you can get all of this for less than the cost of a trip to the movie theatre, where you will sit in quiet silence.
What was the last movie you saw where there was a scene so moving that you leapt from your seat, $12 bag of popcorn be damned, fist pumped the air and screamed “Hell Yeah!”
Have you ever been to a movie where you and your kid were so emotionally into it that the two of you spontaneously high fived each other and screamed?
Didn’t think so.
When was the last time you really let your emotions flow over something that is just plain fun?
There’s something cathartic about a football game where you can let your guard down in front of the world and show your emotions. You’ll see big burly guys, grumpy grandparents and even your normally stoic accountant sscreaming like teenage girls at a Justin Beeber concert and lining up to have their picture made with a football player like he was a Disney character.
Where else can you go, where you and the people you go with, all share in the passion and emotion together.
Within healthy limits, attending a game at Doak Campbell Stadium is a bonding experience for families and for friends that truly will last way past the credits.
And it’s just $84 for a family of four, two couples looking for something to do, a golf foursome, or four dudes tired of sitting at the bar.
And the value doesn’t end when the clock strikes zero.
Wheter you are young or old, born here or chose here, attended Florida State or not, there’s a pretty good chance Florida State Athletics has had an affect on your life.
And that binds our community.
The quickest way to make a new best friend is to find an experience or a memory you share in common. Home football game weekends are those moments that become the topic of discussion not only with the friends and family you came with but also within the Tallahassee Community. The weekend fun, the recipes, the big plays, the silly things we do at tailgate parties and during the game, all become the subject of coffee breaks and playground conversation. Suddenly people who were mere acquaintances now have a common frame of reference to build a friendship or a business relationship upon.
Those shared experiences have a way of uniting our North Florida Communities and of transforming Doak Campbell Stadium into a Magic Kingdom.