The roar of thousands. The sound of a tackle. The contact of cleat to football. These are the sounds of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl that happens every year in December at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, TN, and you have to be there for all the excitement. Experience the sights, sounds and endless events around this time-honored tradition. Read on to see what you can expect when you attend the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and learn the history of the Bowl.
Kick off the festivities early in the week by attending the Team Welcome Party. You have the opportunity to join the teams as they enjoy dinner and entertainment in Memphis. Make sure to buy an Action Pack ticket to ensure you’re in on the fun. Make plans to see the AutoZone Liberty Bowl Professional Rodeo which features top performers from around the U.S. They compete for high honors in events like bull riding, steer wrestling, bareback bronc riding and barrel racing in the Agricenter Show Place Arena. This event is great if you’re bringing your kids along for all the football excitement the coming weekend.
The day before the game, suit up or wear your best jewelry for the President’s Gala, the celebrated and premier black-tie event of the season. Music and dancing fill the night while food and drinks flow freely. Each year, famous musicians who have contributed greatly to the music industry are honored at the Gala. The musician or music group receives the Outstanding Achievement Award and performs their classic hits. It’s a party not to be missed.
If you don’t snag tickets to the President’s Gala, join thousands of fans for the Bash on Beale Pep Rally in Handy Park on historic Beale Street where an exciting pep rally full of music and entertainment gets the party started before the next day’s game. It starts with the Beale Street Parade. You’ll want to get there early to secure one of the best viewing spots along the parade route. Floats capture the audience’s attention while high school and university marching bands bring music and celebration with upbeat songs to Beale Street. The parade is televised by the local ABC affiliate in Memphis. Say cheese! Admission to both parties is free and open to the public.
Game day comes with lots of celebration! Before the game, you can get to the stadium early to participate in the Tiger Lane Tailgating event. The event starts at 8 a.m. for tailgaters to start setting up their spaces on the day prior to game day. All other guests start parking 6 a.m. on game day. Food and drinks are available for purchase, or you can pack up your car with your favorite Game Day foods. This is where you’ll feel the spirit of the game, the boisterous excitement from fans for the upcoming game and the undeniable community spirit as strangers quickly become friends. Adjacent to the stadium, you’ll find Pig -n- Whistle where an all-you-can-eat and drink buffet waits along with live entertainment. It’s hailed as one of the best pre-game parties in the U.S.
Expect to see teams from the Big 12 Conference and SEC battle for top honors at the Liberty Bowl. Thousands congregate to cheer on their favorites to victory. Marching bands, a patriotic pre-game show and a dazzling half-time show with dancers, homecoming queens from across the U.S. and iconic music artists are highlights you’ll want to experience yourself.
The AutoZone Liberty Bowl Tradition
So how did the AutoZone Liberty Bowl become such a football staple, not only in Memphis but tuned in by people from around the nation? As the seventh oldest college bowl game, it’s one of the most patriotic and tradition-rich bowl games in the U.S. The first AutoZone Liberty Bowl started in 1959 in Philadelphia and had a game between Penn State and Alabama, with Penn State snagging the victory. The first game was attended by 36,211 fans and has steadily grown in popularity over the years. In 2016, Georgia and TCU went head to head as more than 51,000 attendees cheered them on. The trophy is a one-quarter-sized replica of the bell that rang in Independence Hall to announce the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The same foundry marks, misspelled inscription, the crack and the nicked edges can be found on the trophy just like the original bell.
The AutoZone Liberty Bowl has hosted some famous coaches over the years as well including Tom Osborne, Lou Holtz, Paul “Bear” Bryant, Steve Spurrier and Bill Snyder. Four Heisman Trophy winners: Ernie Davis, Doug Flutie, Bo Jackson and Terry Baker along with other stars like Donovan McNabb and Archie Manning have played on this same field.
Another wonderful tradition is when coaches and players from both teams visit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, located in Memphis, to spread holiday cheer to St. Jude patients. The AutoZone Liberty Bowl has supported St. Jude, a partnership that brings the internationally-recognized biomedical research center with the college football tradition.
Want in on all the action, tradition and parties? Grab an Action Pack for the complete experience. The Starter Action Pack includes four sideline game tickets, four pre-game buffet tickets and one Association Membership which includes two parking passes, subscription and gift. Individual tickets start at $65 for an end zone seat, $75 for a corner seat, $85 for a side line ticket and $95 for chair back seat.