Orange Bowl Badgers fans

Members of Miami's Badger Watch group at Slackers Bar and Grill, a Fort Lauderdale Badgers and Green Bay Packers bar, during Wisconsin's recent Big Ten Championship game against Ohio State. 

Jeri Jandovitz

Badgers fans living among the University of Miami Hurricanes faithful in south Florida are looking forward to seeing reinforcements arrive soon, dressed in red and ready to cheer on the 12-1 football team as it takes on Miami at home in the Dec. 30 Orange Bowl.

“We’re going to need all the Badgers there we can get. We’ll be outnumbered,” said Fort Myers resident and 1983 UW-Madison graduate Curt Holderman. “We just have to be a lot louder, but I don’t think that’ll be a problem.”

Holderman, a La Valle native who has lived in Florida for about 12 years, will be at the game in his red truck with a “badger1” license plate and large Badgers flags. Tailgating before the game is a given.

“We’ll have the kite up and the flag flying just trying to draw some attention,” Holderman said.

An estimated 2,200 UW-Madison alumni live full-time in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area. It may not be Camp Randall on a Saturday morning, but organizers are hoping to see enough Badgers red in the stands to offset any home field advantage by the opposing team.

“We’re so excited about seeing Wisconsin people,” said Jeri Jandovitz, a 1976 UW-Madison graduate and Miami resident for the past 34 years. “It’s a different breed of people.”

Jandovitz is the organizer of a group of Badgers fans living in the Miami area that have been getting together to watch football and basketball games for the past several years. The group was formed about five years ago as a way for alumni, fans and Wisconsin natives living in south Florida to bond over their love for the Badgers.

And they don’t just get together to watch Badgers games. Many in the group have become friends and sometimes get together for activities like kayaking and send-offs for south Florida students enrolled at UW-Madison.

“It’s really a nice group of people … we’re all friends now,” Jandovitz said. “Wisconsin brings us together.”

As many as 40 people have joined the group to watch Badgers games, Jandovitz said.

“It’s fun being Badgers fans down here,” agreed Holderman, a frequent Badger Watch attendee.

Although the Badgers football team has frequently played in bowl games in Florida in recent years, the games have been played in Orlando or Tampa. This year, Miami-area Badgers fans won’t have to travel far to watch the game or participate in pregame activities.

“This is the first one right in my own backyard,” said Marshall native Craig Madaus, an inventor and south Florida resident since 2013. “I’ve never had it this close to home.”

Tickets still available

For Badgers fans who don’t live in south Florida, there’s still time to buy tickets for the Orange Bowl.

While tour packages through the Wisconsin Alumni Association are sold out, UW-Madison still has about 7,000 of its 14,000-ticket allotment left.

Tickets through UW-Madison are selling for $230 or $105, said UW athletics spokesman Brian Lucas.

Tickets were also available on third-party websites like Ticketmaster and StubHub as of Wednesday afternoon.

With temperatures in Madison expected to be in the teens on game day, another reason fans should be excited about heading to Miami for the game is the sunshine and warm weather, Jandovitz said.

“The Badger fans, when they come down here, are going to want to hit the beaches,” Jandovitz said. “They’re going to enjoy the sunshine.”

For Madaus, who joins Jandovitz and other fans to watch Badgers games, the more fans that come down for the game, “the more exciting it is.”

Madaus, a lifelong Badgers fan, said he’ll be attending the game and hopes his brother and other family members are able to join him.

“The group that I go around with, they’re all excited about bringing in more and more guests,” he said.

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