What Iowa Hawkeyes fans can do in Tampa Bay ahead of Outback Bowl

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

If you’re an Iowa fan heading south for the Outback Bowl against Mississippi State, there’s plenty to do ahead of the Jan. 1 matchup.

A flag flies outside Kinnick Stadium before the Iowa-Northwestern football game on November 10, 2018.

Here’s a list of events in the days prior. All times listed are Eastern.

December 27

Team Night at Tampa Bay Lightning: Both teams are hosted by the Tampa Bay Lightning for an NHL game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa. Watch as some players from each team have a friendly competition between periods. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m. For additional information or to order your tickets,  call 813-301-6600 or go to ticketmaster.com.

December 28

Players Night at Splitsville: Join the teams as they enjoy an evening of fun and games at Splitsville at Sparkman Wharf along the downtown Tampa waterfront. Teams only from 6-7 p.m. Doors open to the public at 7 p.m.


December 29

Busch Gardens Team Outing: Both teams and their fans enjoy the attractions and festivities at the world-famous Busch Gardens theme park during bowl week. Admission tickets for the general public are available at the gate.

December 30

Clearwater Beach Day: Join the teams, their marching bands and cheerleaders as they enjoy the sun and beaches at the Hilton Clearwater Beach next to Pier 60. This fun day includes live music, skydivers, a tug-of-war and other contests from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. After Beach Day, stick around for Sunsets at Pier 60 featuring artisans, music and more while you watch the sunset on the Gulf of Mexico.


December 31

Battle of the Bands at Busch Gardens: Join the college marching bands at Busch Gardens as they square off for a special "Battle of the Bands" performance. Admission to park required. Performance time is 12:30 p.m. at Gwazi Park.

New Year’s Eve Parade: Eclectic Ybor City is the site of this festive celebration featuring the Outback Bowl New Year's Eve parade and pep rally. The parade will feature floats and about 15 marching bands, including the two college bands. The pep rally features a battle of the bands and cheerleaders from both universities. This free family event starts at 5:30 p.m. and runs along 7th Avenue.

January 1

Pregame Bowl Bash: Bowl fans can warm up for the big game outside the stadium starting at 9 a.m. with live music and a pep rally. Features various displays from Busch Gardens, the U.S. Air Force, Visit St Pete-Clearwater and more. Food and refreshments will be available for purchase. On the south plaza between gates C & D and on Tampa Bay Boulevard.

Kickoff: Iowa and Mississippi State kick off from Raymond James Stadium at noon. 

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.