The University of Alabama football game day experience is one of the best in all of college football. The team is steeped in tradition, and the Crimson Tide is a yearly fixture at the top of the SEC with mascot Big Al in the lead.
The Crimson Tide are seemingly always in the hunt for the College Football Playoffs with a shot at the National Championship. Alabama has been a dominant force in college football in the 2010s as head coach Nick Saban brought the school back to national prominence.
Game day at Alabama sees the Tide take to the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium. This is a massive, modern venue, with a capacity of over 101,000 people. Given the passion for the team in Tuscaloosa, and because of their success on the field, the stadium is always sold out and full of passionate students, alumni, and fans. The atmosphere only ramps up as the season draws on, with big rivalry games against the likes of LSU and (especially) Auburn. The clash with Auburn is known as the Iron Bowl, and it is one of the fiercest rivalries in all of sports.
Tailgating is a must before (and after) the game, with fans setting up their sites well in advance to get the grills and smokers going for an all-day party. Tailgating happens in lots all around the stadium and you do not need a game day ticket to enjoy this part of the experience, though be aware that some of the areas will require a season pass for parking if you are intending to drive in order to take part in the festivities.
As with all sports teams, the supply and demand for tickets flow based on how well Alabama is doing and the opponent that they are facing. Single-game tickets for lower-tier opponents have been available for as little as $35, while games against high-level SEC foes can easily reach $200 on the secondary market. Season ticket packages are also available, though there is often a waitlist for these, and a donation to the school in the form of an annual contribution is usually also required. Check out current Alabama Gameday ticket options.
Driving around the stadium and the campus, in general, can be pretty tricky on game day. With this in mind, the game day staff have been known to offer different routes to get to and from the campus in a time-efficient way. Routes cater to people heading to the Bryant-Denny Stadium from all different directions. State Route 216 goes to the south of University Boulevard and is not preferred for RVs getting to either of the on-campus sites.
The easiest way to park at an Alabama football game is to take advantage of the campus public parking passes that can be purchased for $25 per game. This includes free shuttle service between the stadium and the Quad to allow for plenty of tailgating time. Non-reserved spaces are available in several on-campus lots for $30 on game day. There are also a couple of rideshare lots available on campus for those without a car.
RV parking on campus is sold as a full season pass for around $500 for the entire season, giving you a great spot from which to start your tailgating. Single-game passes are not available. There is also an off-campus RV Lot, the Northington Lot, two miles from campus. This is another season ticket only lot with the price at around $225 for the full slate of home games.
The best place to park and take advantage of public transportation is in Downtown Tuscaloosa. You may find an area of public parking there that is free on game day, with over 400 spaces. In the past, they have also had buses running to the stadium with a small fee for adults and free for children three and under. There has also been a shuttle bus that runs from University Mall to the stadium from four hours prior to kickoff that costs around $10 (cash only).
The best place to be is the on-campus RV parking lot. The downside to this facility is that all RVs must be self-contained as there are no hook-ups available, but you can stay overnight. RVs can be brought into the area Friday evening before each game. The Northington Lot usually allows entry on Thursday before each game and slots are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Both lots are for season pass holders only.
There are a number of nearby campgrounds that offer RV parking. These can be as close as 0.7 miles from the stadium, with many offering the hook-ups that the on-campus sites lack. There are some RV Parks in the area that include communal clubhouse areas, with full kitchens, basketball courts, shower blocks, and even a fully functioning dog park.
The best way to get to the stadium and the Quad is by using the shuttle buses that run in the area from one site to another. Parking around Bryant-Denny Stadium is pretty spread out, but walking a mile or so to the stadium through the noise and the colors and the smells of Alabama tailgating is much more rewarding than taking the same journey inside a car or a bus. Plan on getting there early, and just wandering around the parking lot and other areas for a full game day experience.
If you aren’t wearing Alabama crimson and white you may get a few funny looks from fellow fans. Crimson Tide gear, t-shirts, and hoodies are often sold within a 250-mile radius of campus in case you want to add to your collection as you join the masses in the stadium. It is also probably best to avoid navy blue and burnt orange (Auburn) and purple and gold (LSU) whilst in Tuscaloosa.
If you are planning on tailgating, then the best way to do it is with a trusty old gas or charcoal grill. Open fires are prohibited in many of the lots due to safety concerns, but game day isn’t game day without burgers and brats cooked in the lot. Coolers are fine to take too, although these items are not allowed into the stadium.
Having sunscreen on standby wouldn’t be a bad idea for those August and September home games, while bug spray is always a good idea in the South. Tailgating usually involves drinking adult beverages, so having and drinking water alongside will make for a better Saturday night and Sunday morning. Always plan on having a sober driver or using a ridesharing service to get home.
Cooking before the game will be with ingredients that are brought into the site after being purchased locally. One of the signatures of any Alabama tailgate is a potent alcoholic concoction called the Yellowhammer. Also expect to see lots of barbecue at the site, with many preparing their own and sharing with anyone in the vicinity as a sense of personal pride. Be prepared to share and make new friends.
The best places to eat on game day are those in Tuscaloosa near Bryant-Denny Stadium. These tend to be on either University Boulevard or on Paul W Bryant Drive, with many offering game day specials and the kind of bar food you would expect before a football game. Sports bars are a great bet here as fans flock in to watch the early kickoffs before heading into the stadium.
Anyone who has missed out on food in the Quad or around the stadium will be happy to know there are a number of food vendors inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. One thing to note is that alcohol is still prohibited in the stadium, even as more and more schools adopt alcohol friendly policies. The food isn’t fancy, but the stadium dog here is a typical favorite of fans.
Basic security protocols should always be followed in the parking lots, such as keeping valuables and expensive-looking items hidden in locked cars and not on display. Enhanced security measures include walk-through metal detectors at all gates, which will make entering the stadium a slightly longer process but will help stop prohibited items from entering the facility.
Be prepared for hot weather at the start of the season and potentially cooler weather in November and into December. This is still Alabama, so the temperatures aren’t going to be frigid, but Bryant-Denny is an outdoor stadium so any weather elements will be in the face of the fans. This is also an area where tornadoes and lightning storms can develop, with space limited in the stadium during extreme weather events.
As with any University stadium, the medical facilities and precautions at Alabama are top-notch. There are a number of local hospitals that are among the best in the region, while there are public safety personal and trained first responders dotted around the stadium on game day. Always be sure to quote the section, row, and seat number in case of an emergency.