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Official Review by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Nissan Stadium opened in 1999, and has hosted the Music City Bowl ever since. The stadium is also home to the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, as well as the FCS Tennessee State Tigers. The stadium is located on the east bank of the Cumberland River, right across the water from downtown Nashville, and has a capacity of 69,143. Besides football, the stadium is also used for concerts, soccer matches, and other events.
The Music City Bowl pairs teams from the ACC and SEC, and is currently sponsored by Franklin American Mortgage Company.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Nissan Stadium offers a wide variety of food and beverage options, including plenty of alcohol, but has been criticized for long lines during games. Prices are typical for pro stadium fare, but are more than you would pay at a college football venue.
Concession choices include brand names such as Logan's Roadhouse, Jack Daniels, Papa John's, and Bojangles, as well as locally-themed restaurants such as Nashgrille and Titan Tavern, plus some generic stands. All of the typical fare is available, such as burgers, chicken sandwiches and tenders, barbecue, hot dogs, and pizza, as well as less common items such as fried shrimp and turkey legs - these items range in cost from $4.50 to $10. You can also find snack items such as nachos, cotton candy, pretzels, funnel cake, fries, and peanuts for around $4 to $6.
Drink options include coffee, bottled water, soda from the fountain or in bottles (Coke products), and Gatorade - these cost $4 to $5, except for the souvenir cups, which are a little more. You can also get beer and a wide selection of cocktails, including frozen margaritas, starting at $9. They also sell non-alcoholic beer for $5.
The Music City Bowl is one of the more marquee games of the bowl season, and as such, draws a pretty good crowd. In addition, the game is played in a pro stadium, which means a great venue with comfortable seats, good sightlines, and lots of amenities.
All of the seats at Nissan stadium are plastic, bucket-style chair backs with cup holders, so they are pretty comfortable. But the best thing about the stadium is the mammoth scoreboards in each zone - each is several stories high, and makes it easy to see replays, even if you are way up in the cheap seats. You will also see numerous Nissan automobiles on angled platforms above the entry gates, as well as in the end zones, and there are plenty of covered tables on the concourses below each scoreboard where you can recline while you dine. And of course you will see plenty of signage from Franklin American Mortgage Company, the bowl's title sponsor. See a quick tour of the stadium on game day here:
The entertainment during the Music City Bowl is a little underwhelming. As with most bowl games, you can watch both bands perform during halftime, and each team will do their usual display when they come onto the field before the game, including typical stunts like billowing smoke, running out of a giant inflatable helmet tunnel, and the usual mascot antics. There is also a bomber flyover, crewed by at least one alum from the participating schools. But there are no giveaways to be had, and souvenir stand prices are a little on the high side for items such as Music City Bowl pins, shirts, and hats.
Nissan Stadium is within walking distance of downtown Nashville, so there are plenty of great restaurants nearby, and more than enough to do if you come for the weekend, or even a week or more.
It is very easy to get downtown via a pedestrian bridge over the river, where you will find plenty of restaurants, including Broadway Brewhouse and Wildhorse Saloon. Broadway Brewhouse has a huge beer selection and a lot of great food you wouldn't expect from a bar, while Wildhorse Saloon offers live music, dancing, lots of great food and drinks, and a crazy atmosphere, especially after dark. But if you just want a quick snack before or after the game, there is actually a gas station in Nissan Stadium's parking lot - not the greatest fare from a quality standpoint, but a lot cheaper than what you will pay inside.
Nashville offers plenty to do if you want to spend some extra time before or after the game, including mainstays like the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (which actually includes quite a bit from Elvis). However, there are also some other attractions which may not be as well known, but are every bit as worthwhile, such as cruising down the river on the General Jackson Showboat, or visiting the Johnny Cash Museum, Centennial Park, or Andrew Jackson's Hermitage, which is actually a working cotton farm - you can even pick some as a souvenir.
There are too many hotels to mention, but you will find plenty in the downtown area, or further away (closer to the airport) if you are looking to save some green. Getting to and from your hotel will be pretty simple, as the stadium is crisscrossed by a couple of different major freeways.
Some teams from the ACC and SEC are closer than others, so depending on who is invited, you may see a little more of one color than the other. But whichever teams show up, the crowd is sure to be intense - you won't necessarily see a sellout, but the fans will be very loud and very into the game.
Nissan Stadium holds nearly seventy thousand at full capacity, and just before kickoff the Music City Bowl will be pretty packed with fans from both sides, perhaps forty or fifty thousand strong. You will see a lot of movement during the game as fans make their way to and from the concession stands and facilities, but there will still be plenty of crowd noise as both sides cheer their team on for the final game of the season.
Nissan Stadium is easy to get to, since it is located near several freeways, and there is a pedestrian bridge that goes to downtown. There is also a sidewalk on the I-24 overpass that you can use if you park on the same side of the river as the stadium.
Parking in the lots right outside the stadium will cost $25, but I never recommend these, because they take too long to get out of after the game. You are probably better off parking on the other side of I-24 (on the east side of the stadium) or near downtown (on the other side of the river, to the west) where you can find spots for $10 or $15 - either of these locales are only a short 5-10 minute walk from the stadium. You may also be able to find free parking along the street in either area.
There are entrances on all sides of Nissan Stadium; the ticket office is on the north end if you need will-call or did not purchase tickets in advance. Since there are so many entrances, the lines to get in are not very long, and move very quickly. Be aware that security is a little tighter at pro stadiums than at college venues, so you may have a problem if your bag or purse is too big.
There are several ramps dotted around Nissan Stadium that take you to the upper levels, and there are also some pretty massive elevator complexes you can use to make the approximately seven-story climb. In line with the car theme, the elevators have giant pictures of tires marking their locations. Surprisingly, using the elevators is actually a lot quicker than you might think - there are multiple elevators in each bank, so there is rarely a line to get on.
Tickets to bowl games can be pretty expensive, especially if you want to sit in the lower level. But if your favorite team is in the game, it is generally worthwhile, depending on how far you have to travel.
At the Music City Bowl, tickets in the upper deck start at under $40, including Ticketmaster fees, so you can save a little money by waiting to buy them at the door, which shouldn't be a problem, as they won't sell out. Unfortunately, the upper level seats aren't that great, since they are so high up, and sneaking into a better section is a little hit or miss, at least until late in the game, since they do check tickets in some areas. In fact, they even check tickets before letting fans get on the elevators, which is one reason they don't have much of a line there. That said, you are better off buying a lower-level ticket, which could be $100 or more. Or you could buy the cheap seats and try to stand on the plaza in one of the end zones.
The ridiculously huge video boards are a big plus, and having the cars dotted around the stadium is interesting. Also, the location is very hard to beat, with so many great attractions within walking distance.
Attending the Music City Bowl is a great opportunity to visit Nashville, which would be well worth your time. You are also guaranteed a pretty good match-up between two Power 5 teams, so this is a great bowl game to choose when you are making your holiday football plans. Make sure you plan extra time to take in the sights, and remember to dress warmly for this night game under the lights.
Member Review by Martin
The Music City Bowl has been around since 1998, existing under a number of different sponsors, the most recent being Franklin American Mortgage. Set in Nashville, Tennessee, the bowl game gives fans a taste of the heart of country music, with plenty of events and things to do in a city that is already a great destination.
The 2011 matchup saw Wake Forest (ACC) square off against Mississippi State (SEC) in a 23-17 win for the Bulldogs.
605 8th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37203
120 Second Ave N
Nashville, TN 37201
Nashville, TN 37203
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