GOING BOWLING? Getting there might be a challenge.

Fans can choose two main methods of reaching San Diego - airplanes or automobiles.

NIU has officially chosen Anthony Travel to put together packages for Huskie fans. Charter flights through the travel agency are not yet available, but should be within the next 48 hours, according to the travel agency's Web site.

The Student Association is also working with the athletic department with the hope to have reduced student fares.

"We're hoping to have everything finalized by Thursday or Friday at the latest," Garzarelli said.

Non-charter flights are a possibility, but airfare is more expensive than normal due to the Poinsettia Bowl being close to Christmas.

For example, a non-stop round trip fare from American Airlines leaving from O'Hare on Dec. 18 and returning on Dec. 20 costs $411.

Fans can also choose to make the 2,020-mile drive from DeKalb to San Diego. Mapquest.com estimates the drive to take more than 29 hours.

Driving may not be much cheaper than flying. According to gasbuddy.com the national average for gas is $2.26. If a car gets 25 miles per gallon, it would take about 81 gallons of gasoline for a one-way trip. That adds up to about $183 dollars in gas for one way, or $366 for a round trip.

Or you could go on the taxpayers' dime (or reduce Amtrak's operating deficit, if Amtrak's planners did not anticipate Northern Illinois playing in the Poinsettia Bowl). As of this morning, coach seats are available out of Mendota, Illinois on the Southwest Chief to Los Angeles at $140. (The site offers a number of other intriguing possibilities including Mendota-Chicago-Portland-Los Angeles at $292, into San Diego just before kickoff; and Mendota-Chicago-Sacramento-Bakersfield-Los Angeles at $180, for spectators that would like to go on walkabout before the game.) If seats are still available out of Mendota, they might be available out of Naperville as well.

Economists note: the estimation of driving costs is incomplete, neglecting incremental wear and tear on the car, damage inflicted by roads rendered rough by excess weight trucks, or travel times shortened by politically necessary but socially unnecessary road improvements.

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