The Gator Bowl is an annual college football bowl game that is played at ALLTEL Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. It is one of the oldest non-BCS bowls, held continuously since 1946.
According to The Big Bowl Football Guide by Anthony C. DiMarco (G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1974, 1976, ISBN 399-11800-4), Charles Hilty, Sr. is given credit for conceiving the idea for the event. He, Ray McCarthy, Maurice Cherry and W. C. Ivey put up $10,000 to underwrite the first game. The event struggled in the early years, drawing only 7,362 to the 1946 match when Wake Forest defeated South Carolina, 26-14. It was not until the 1949 match-up of the Clemson Tigers and the Missouri Tigers that the future of the Gator Bowl was assured. The 1948 attendence of 16,666 for a 20-20 tie between Maryland and Georgia, was nearly doubled with 32,939 watching Clemson squeak by Missouri, 24-23, on a late field goal by Jack Miller. By the 1970s, the attendence regularly reached 60,000-70,000.
Until 1993 the game was played in Gator Bowl Stadium, when the stadium was partially demolished during the construction of ALLTEL Stadium on the same site. The 1994 game was played at Gainesville, Florida during construction; the 1996 game (moved to January 1 that season) and subsequent games have been held at ALLTEL Stadium. The game is currently sponsored by Toyota and is officially titled the Toyota Gator Bowl, but 2006 is the last year of Toyota sponsorship.
The Gator Bowl traditionally hosts the second-place ACC team against the second-place Big East team. In 2006, the Big 12 will take one of the spots in this game