Even if you don’t have tickets for Notre Dame and Alabama’s heavyweight clash on January 7, there is still plenty of football fun to be had in Miami before the game. From massive pep rallies and pool parties to live appearances from the Fighting Irish’s No. 1 fan, Regis Philbin, there’s a bevy of events being held before kickoff. Our team rounded up the top places to cheer on your favorite school — with or without game tickets.
Get the Fan Experience
Music lovers and sports fans alike will want to hit the Discover Championship Fan Experience presented by Bud Light & Dr. Pepper (Jan. 5-6). The free, two-day event takes place on South Beach and includes everything from an interactive fan area with a zip line to performances by the National Championship teams’ bands and cheerleaders. The event concludes with a live concert by multi-platinum rapper and singer-songwriter Flo Rida on Jan. 6. Located on Ocean Drive between 7th and 10th streets.
Country music star Luke Bryan will headline a live concert outside Sun Life Stadium as part of the Bud Light Championship Game Day Fan Zone presented by Allstate on Jan. 7. The Fan Zone includes more games and sports exhibits, food and beverages, and the Fighting Irish and Crimson Tide bands and cheerleaders. $30, located in the parking lot across from Gates G and H of Sun Life Stadium.
Cheer on Your Team
Bama fans: Wear your Crimson Tide gear and head to South Beach on Jan. 5 for the Alabama Alumni Association’s team pep rally. The Million Dollar Band, UA cheerleaders, Big Al and Bama stars will all be on hand to pump up the fans. 5-6 p.m. Located on Ocean Drive between 6th and 9th streets.
Notre Dame fans will follow Alabama’s celebration on Jan. 5 and try to bring the luck of the Irish to South Beach as they cheer for the team’s first appearance in a BCS National Championship Game. The Notre Dame Marching Band, Fighting Irish cheerleaders and the Leprechaun will be in attendance. 7-8 p.m. Located on Ocean Drive between 6th and 9th streets.
Where to Party
The Clevelander is one of Miami’s legendary hotel bars, especially when it comes to Miami’s annual Orange Bowl pre-parties and this year’s BCS Championship. Alabama fans shouldn’t miss this poolside happy hour that runs right up until the Crimson Tide’s pep rally on Jan. 5. 11 a.m.-5 p.m., 1020 Ocean Drive
Channel your inner Irish with the Notre Dame Club of Miami at Fado’s Irish Pub in Mary Brickell Village. Your first drink is free, and proceeds of the $10 cover go straight to the Notre Dame club. Jan. 5, 7 p.m.-midnight, 900 S. Miami Ave.
Monty’s on South Beach is the place to be on Jan. 6 if you’re a Notre Dame fan. The Notre Dame Club of Miami is hosting a raffle and pool party where you can win two tickets to the big game. Raffle tickets are $40 ($20 if you’re a member of the club). Tickets go on sale at 1 p.m. and the drawing will be held at 4 p.m. 300 Alton Road, Miami Beach Marina.
It’s not really a football game without a tailgate party and Alabama Alumni Association is hosting a big one on game day. Admission gets you in to Fan Zone where you can see Luke Bryan perform before the game and get a full buffet of hamburgers, hot dogs and desserts. $75, 5:30-7:30 p.m. on the 100 Level of Sun Life Stadium, Gate C/B.
The Fighting Irish isn’t holding a tailgate party per se, but fans need to head to Bayfront Park at noon to be part of Notre Dame Game Day. The big celebration includes live performances by Celtic band Gaelic Storm and Notre Dame graduate Pat McKillen. Regis Philbin, Dick Vitale and Martin Short are a few of the invited guest speakers, and of course the Notre Dame cheerleaders and the Leprechaun will be in attendance to amp up the crowd. 12-4 p.m., Bayfront Park.
Where to Stay
Right now, landing a room in Miami is tougher than getting tickets to the game. But “The Good Life” offer from Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Loews Miami Beach covers both. Book this über-luxe package and you’ll stay for three nights in the oceanfront, two-story presidential suite, which comes with a stocked bar. You’ll also snag two club-level tickets for the football game, two tickets to the Jan. 6 Miami Heat vs. Washington Wizards game, dinner reservations at Prime One Twelve, VIP access to an exclusive new nightclub and two spa treatments at Elemis Spa. Sure, it will set you back $8,500 a night, but that’s pennies when it comes to seeing your team crowned National Champions (fingers crossed).
Photos Courtesy of The Clevelander South Beach, UA Athletics, University of Notre Dame and Loews Hotels