5 ways to make University of Houston fans feel at home for the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl

Houston Head Coach Dana Holgorsen and Auburn HC Bryan Harsin before the 15th Annual TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

University of Houston Cougar fans—let us be the first to welcome you to the Magic City and the 15th annual TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl.

To make you feel at home, Bham Now has produced a “tip” sheet for your time here in Birmingham.

And as we say here in The Magic City…

“It’s nice to have the Houston Cougars here in Birmingham!”

Game Details—Pep Rallies and Arrive Early

Protective Stadium
Protective Stadium is ready for you. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

Some background for our new friends from Texas. You are playing in a brand new stadium that is only 3 months old. The game on Tuesday morning (rise and shine!!!) will be the first potential sellout at Protective Stadium. So be warned, we might still be working out some kinks like parking.  But don’t worry, because if you are reading this story you are ahead of everyone.

This week, Bham Now published a handy guide to help you get to the pep-rallies and game with no worries or problems. Read it all here:

All the details you need about the 2021 TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl (including parking)

Now on to our special tips: 

1. Take a Hike in The Magic City

Ruffner
Birmingham Mountain High Hikers at Ruffner Mountain. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Fun fact: Birmingham is home to two local nature preserves (Ruffner Mountain & Red Mountain Park) that are each larger than Central Park in NYC.  

As I write this story, the weather in Birmingham is expected to be an uncommonly warm spring-like 70+ degrees this weekend and on gameday. (Aren’t you glad it’s not like the 1979 Cotton Bowl? Despite Houston losing that game and the 18 degree temps, it was one of the greatest games in college football history.) Want to get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine?  

Here’s a quick guide:

2. Battle of the Foodie Cities

El Barrio
El Barrio nachos, featuring plantain chips, named the best nachos in Alabama. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

Missing Houston cuisine while you are here in Birmingham? According to several national publications, including GQ and Conde Nast, Houston is a foodie haven.

Well, here in Birmingham, we are not too shabby when it comes to fine dining. In fact, just a few years ago, Highlands Bar and Grill (which is closed because of COVID) in 5 Points South won the James Beard Award for Best Restaurant in the nation. There are lots of choices too—whether it’s BBQ, wings, a burger or anything in between. 

Check out our restaurant guides:

3. Nearby Museums and Landmarks

Vulcan Fireworks
Thunder on the Mountain 2020. Photo via Nathan Watson

Have you seen the Birmingham Bowl trophy? Wonder who that handsome “god-like” fella’ is? It’s a replica of Birmingham’s own Vulcan—“The Big Guy”—the largest cast iron statue in the world that watches over Jones Valley from his perch on top of Red Mountain. You can go see Vulcan up close and personal at the Vulcan Park and Museum

Before and after you watch the big game, take time to visit several museums and landmarks—all within walking distance of the stadium.

Civil Rights
Entrance at Kelly Ingram Park in the Civil Rights District. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

4. Early Game—Coffee & Breakfast Joints

Birmingham, Red Cat Cafe, hot chocolate, drinks, warm drinks, chocolate
That may be the cutest mug of hot chocolate ever. Photo via @catsofredcat on Instagram

We can’t stress this enough—ARRIVE EARLY to the game! Meanwhile, fuel up with a big breakfast. One place you may want to try is Bogue’s. I highly recommend the sweet rolls. While you are in the neighborhood, walk across the street to see the historic marker recognizing the location of the 1st Iron Bowl —Alabama v. Auburn. Great way to read up on your opponent and prepare for the Bowl game. 

5. Brewery Trail

beer cheers
Cinderella Story + Avondale. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now.

Even though the Birmingham Bowl is not on New Year’s Eve, who says you can’t celebrate early?

Show your Houston Cougars colors and visit Birmingham’s many breweries, bars and cocktail lounges. Breweries start at Good People Brewery and Monday Night Brewery near Railroad Park & move East toward the Avondale Entertainment District (of course, you can start in the middle or eastern section first too). 

Need a Birmingham Brewery list? Here are 15 in the Birmingham area.

It’s Nice to Have You in Birmingham

Birmingham, Alabama, Newcomers' Guide to Birmingham
John’s City Diner mural in downtown Birmingham. Photo by Bham Now

Good luck, Houston, against Auburn on December 28th. We’ll be there at the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl with you on December 28th.

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Uptown
Where the pre-game action happens. Photo via Uptown’s Facebook

And don’t forget to join the Magic City at the Uptown Street Fest and Pep Rally on December 27th at Uptown.

  • What: Bud Light Fan Fest and Pep Rally
  • Where: 2221 Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard North, Birmingham, AL 35203
  • When: Monday,December 27th – 1-6PM
  • Hosted by: TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl
  • Admission: FREE and open to all

See you there!

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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