Texas vs. Ohio State • Fiesta Bowl • Glendale, AZ • January 5, 2009
Overview: From an emotional and a logistical standpoint, you really have to be committed to make the Fiesta Bowl trip this year. If the BCS title snub wasn’t enough of a deterrent, the fact that the game takes place on the Monday after the holidays makes it lot harder for those fans who really should be going back to work that day.
For these reasons, I’ve chosen to position the following travel tips for someone going on a quick jaunt (sort of a business trip without the tie)...
Lodging: Unless you’re looking to play a lot of golf or have passes to some hoity-toity Fiesta Bowl Ball in Glendale or Scottsdale (near the casinos), I recommend booking a room at a hotel in Tempe near Mill Avenue. Tempe is located just east of the airport, which is convenient for those of us needing to leave “early” on Tuesday morning. And Mill Avenue is where you’ll find most of the bars and restaurants fans will be partying at the night before the game.
Transportation: Splurge for the rental car. Phoenix is extremely spread out and Glendale, where the game will be played, is a suburb about 20 miles northwest of the airport. Cab rides will be expensive whether you’re staying close to the stadium and coming from the airport or staying in Tempe and taking a cab to and from the game. Also, you’ll want the rental car for tailgating and getting back to your hotel after the game. Not sure what the public transportation scene is like, but again, Glendale is a suburb.
Night before the game: As mentioned above, Mill Avenue in Tempe is most likely where you’ll find fans of both teams the night before the game. Not only does the area feature a wide assortment of bars and restaurants, but also it’s located a block west of the Arizona State campus and the eye candy alone makes it a popular destination year-round.
The following recommendations represent the most corroborated answers I received when asking a few ASU alumns from the area this question, “if you were a Texas fan, where would you want to be the night before the Fiesta Bowl?”
Rula Bula (401 S. Mill Avenue) – By far the most popular place mentioned. It’s an Irish bar with a great atmosphere and tons of beers on tap. It’ll fill up fast, so get there early.
The Big Bang (501 S. Mill Avenue) – Underground dueling piano bar where the patrons are encouraged to sing along. No doubt The Eyes of Texas and Carmen Ohio will be popular requests.
The Library (501 S. Mill Avenue, #101) – You’ll have to brave the gawking sausage fest if you want go here as the required uniform for waitresses is “school-girl slut.” They don’t call it the “Guy-brary” for nothing. Then again, girls in plaid skirts sportin’ the cleav are always hard to resist.
The Tavern (404 S Mill Ave) – For those of you who just want to drink some beer without having to pay for atmosphere, the Tavern is laid back and usually features some good drink specials.
The Zuma Grill (605 S Mill Ave) – Good food and good Margaritas (we’ll be the judge of that). It’s also a bar so it may be a good place to start the night.
Four Peaks Brewery Company (1340 E. 8th Street) – It’s located about 2 miles east of Mill Avenue, but I’m told it’s a must as the food and house brew make it well worth the trip. And I hear beer is the key ingredient in their famous Italian baked bread. I’m sold.
Dos Gringos (1001 E 8th Street) – East of Mill Avenue on the other side of campus, this is the obligatory Tex-Mex offering. (Again, we’ll be the judge of that).
Tilted Kilt (660 Warner Road) – Kind of a lucky strike extra…it’s a sports bar not located all that close to Mill Avenue (about 6 miles south actually). But I’m including it for those of you who will be arriving early that Sunday and want to watch the NFL playoff games (and it also features naughty school-girl waitresses in plaid skirts…what can I say, I was raised Catholic)
Tailgating: To be honest, I’m not terribly excited about the prospects of tailgating outside an NFL stadium because the parking lots are usually concrete jungles designed to encourage fans to proceed to the stadium where “the beer cost $7.” And judging by all the rules regarding tailgating, the unfortunately named University of Phoenix Stadium doesn’t seem to be an exception. But pre-game options close to the stadium are limited in the very sterile suburb of Glendale. So get yourself a cooler of beer and celebrate urban sprawl.
Good things to know :
1) Lots open at 9:30am and if you plan on parking in the same zip code as the stadium, you’ll need to fork over $30 for a parking pass. You can purchase by calling (800) 635-5748. If you’re a season ticket holder, you can purchase one at TexasBoxOffice.com (NOTE: The Fiesta Bowl Parking Passes weren’t an option to purchase when the initial order form for bowl tickets went out to season ticket holders.)
2) While there is a huge, enticing lawn near the stadium, it’s not open to tailgaters and alcoholic beverages are prohibited on it.
3) Supposedly, you are only allowed to tailgate in front or behind your car. “Tent cities” encompassing multiple spaces are prohibited and will be summarily dealt with by a roving gang of Segway Rent-A-Cops. Do what you gotta do.
BON Tailgate TBD: No plans yet, but I’m sure we’ll designate a spot in the lots outside the stadium for BONers to meet at before the game. Look for an announcement on the BON as the game gets closer.
Tickets: Honestly, the jury is still out on this one. The Fiesta Bowl site has already declared the game a Sell Out, but the tickets allotted to the two schools have not been distributed and we don’t know yet if both schools have sold their allotments.
Personally, I have a hard time believing there will be a lot of demand for a game played on a Monday night following the holidays between two schools who aren’t exactly thrilled to be there. Then again, Texas and Ohio State fans are some of the best traveling fan bases around, so who knows. I thought the same thing about Texas-Michigan Rose Bowl a few years ago and tickets were going for 25-cents on the dollar outside the stadium before the game.
Face value for tickets is $135 and if you have access to purchase them directly, either through the school or through the Fiesta Bowl, I’d suggest doing that first. For those of you who are scalping, I’d recommend waiting until the week of the game becasuse there is already ample suply of tickets on sites like Stub Hub and eBay and I don’t see ticket prices getting any higher than they are now.
Special thanks to pitchforknation.com and PB’s cousin Adam.
NOTE: By no means is this the definitive travel guide to the Feista Bowl. So if you know the area and want to challege these recommendations or make some of your own, please do so.