The week between Christmas and New Year’s used to be a dead zone in Nashville. That is until 1998 when the Nashville Sports Council decided to organize the first Music City Bowl. Now sponsored by Franklin American Mortgage Company, the annual college football bowl game brings thousands of visitors to town to watch a team from the SEC face off against a rival from either the Big Ten Conference or the Atlantic Coast Conference. This year’s matchup between Auburn and Purdue will be played at Nissan Stadium on Friday, Dec. 28 at 12:30 p.m. CST. The game will be televised on ESPN and should prove to be a very competitive contest between two teams with potentially explosive offenses.
However the action on the field is just a small part of the fun that surrounds the Franklin American Mortgage Music CIty Bowl. Since the game kicks off on a Friday morning, it will really be just the beginning of an entertaining weekend in Music City, not to mention several days of bowl-related events leading up to the tilt. Here are a few things that should be on your calendar.
The two teams will officially be welcomed to town at a by-invitation party at the Wildhorse Saloon on Wednesday, Dec. 26. This party is intended for the players and traveling parties of the two universities, and will give them a taste of Nashville with dinner and music. Players from each team usually face off in a Nashville hot chicken eating contest, and it’s kind that they do this a few days before the big game to give the contestants time to recover from the effects of the fiery fowl.
The first event open to the public is the big Coaches’ Luncheon on Thursday, Dec. 27 in the Tennessee Ballroom of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. There should be a lot of attention on these two coaches as Purdue’s Jeff Brohm recently committed to stay with the team despite an offer from his alma mater at the University of Louisville, and Auburn coach Gus Malzahn might find himself on the hot seat after a disappointing SEC season where his team underachieved on the way to a 3 to 5 conference record. In addition to speeches by both coaches, the luncheon will feature presentations by bowl organizers.
They’ll close off Lower Broad on Thursday afternoon for what is always one of the most stirring events surrounding the Music CIty Bowl, the Battle of the Bands. Musicians from both universities will march to the base of Broadway where they face off in a friendly competition, with the winner selected by the cheers of their fans. The event is free and open to all, but you can pay for special status at the Adams & Reese Battle of the Bands VIP Party. Your ticket will entitle you to the best view in town of the bands as well as the post-battle entertainment from 80’s/90’s cover band, Rubik’s Groove. VIP admission also includes a buffet dinner and two drink tickets redeemable for beer, wine or well liquor drinks.
Even with an early kick-off on Friday morning, there’s still time for a little aggressive tailgating before heading into the stadium. The Black Tie Moving Pregame Tailgate Party is an opportunity to buy a ticket for admission to a fun morning of entertainment with the Kelly Long Band at a stage set up outside the South End Zone between gates 8 and 9 at Nissan Stadium. This hospitality event features an all-you-can-eat buffet with beer, wine, and specialty cocktails. The party starts up at 9:30 a.m. on game day and will continue until after kickoff. There are still tickets available for the game itself, ranging from $35 in the upper deck to $190 on the posh Club level of Nissan Stadium.
If you want to extend your trip after the game is over, there will still be plenty to do in and around Music City. Right across the river from Nissan Stadium, you can enjoy ice skating on a rink that is actually set up on the stage at Ascend Amphitheater. If you ever wanted to know what it was like to get onstage in Nashville, here’s your chance.
ICE! At Gaylord Opryland Hotel will remain open until New Year’s, sharing the whimsical story of the Dr. Seuss classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas through colorful statues carved out of huge blacks of ice. Dress warmly, because they keep the rooms below ten degrees to make sure the Grinch stays cool.
Visitors can enjoy even more sports if they grab a ticket to the Nashville Predators hockey game at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 29 as they play the historic New York Rangers NHL franchise at Bridgestone Arena. For a real sports fan, it’s tough to beat a bowl game/hockey game double header.
Or heck, you could just stay all week and experience a Music City New Year’s Eve, too! We promise you won’t be bored.