A Fan’s Guide to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Everything you need to know about the game, tailgating, where to stay and what to do in Memphis.

Are you ready for some football? Bowl season is officially upon us. This year at the 55th Annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl, the Mississippi State Bulldogs from the SEC Conference will square off against the 10-3 Rice Owls on Tuesday, December 31 at 3 p.m. (CST). This will be Mississippi State’s fourth trip to the Liberty Bowl (last appearance was 2007) and the first trip for Rice. 

The game is one of the most tradition-rich games in all of college football. Founded in 1959, the Liberty Bowl has seen the likes of Bear Bryant, Lou Holtz, Bo Jackson, Archie Manning, Steve Spurrier and Doug Flutie. 

Visiting Memphis for the game? Whether it’s your first time in town or you’re a seasoned pro, we’ve got all the info you need to cheer on your team in our city.  

Game day info
The 55th AutoZone Liberty Bowl kickoffs at 3 p.m. on December 31. Individual tickets, tailgating packages and bundled ticket packages are available for purchase online or by calling 901-795-7700. Stay glued to your seat at halftime, country band, Diamond Rio will perform.

If you plan to tailgate, make sure and reserve your space at Tiger Lane. The tailgating area is just out front of the stadium and is accessible from East Parkway South. Tailgates can begin setting up at 8 a.m. on the day prior to game day. For more tailgating details, see the official AutoZone Liberty Bowl website.

General parking on stadium property is first-come, first-served and cash only. Automobiles are $10 and can be purchased in advance. 

Fans that need transportation to and from the game can pick up a round-trip shuttle ride ($8) from the Memphis Area Transit Authority. See the MATA website for pickup times and details

Events leading up to the game

  • Welcome Party for both teams at AutoZone Park ($25) on Friday, December 27 at 6 p.m.
  • Get up close to both players and coaches at the Players & Coaches Dinner ($40) on Sunday, December 29 at 6 p.m. at the Hilton Memphis Hotel.
  • A free and exciting pep rally for both teams will be held on Beale Street on Monday, December 30 at 5 p.m. 
  • Pre-game with live music, performances by both university bands and famous Memphis barbecue ($35) just before kickoff on Tuesday, December 31 at 11:30 a.m. 
  • The 3rd annual BBQ Bowl is the competition before the game. The best pit masters compete in a barbecue cook off on Tiger Lane with judging at noon on Tuesday, December 21. 

Where to stay in Memphis
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium is located in Midtown Memphis, smack dab between the history and hootenanny of Downtown Memphis and the gardens and museums of East Memphis.

Memphis has hotel options for every budget, personality and preference. Let us give you some ideas. 

In Downtown Memphis, look for reservations at the DoubleTree (just across the street from AutoZone Park baseball field), the Westin Beale Street, the famous Peabody Memphis, upscale Madison Hotel or the Crowne Plaza Hotel. 

Each of these Downtown Memphis hotels are within a short walk or trolley ride to Beale Street, the National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis Rock ’n’ Soul Museum and may other things to do and see. 

In East Memphis, book a room at the Marriott Memphis East, the roomy Homewood Suites, any number of Hampton Inn locations or the Four Points by Sheraton. 

East Memphis has easy access to the I-240 interstate, museums such as the Children’s Museum of Memphis and Pink Palace Museum, shopping at Saddle Creek or Laurelwood Shopping Center and great restaurants like Hog & Hominy or Folk’s Folly. East Memphis is approximately 15-20 minutes from Downtown. 

More things to do in Memphis
Less than 5 minutes from Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium is the award-winning Memphis Zoo, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and the revamped Overton Square. 

Of course you know that Memphis has a rich music history. If this is your first visit to the Bluff City, you’d be remiss not to tour Graceland, Sun Studio or Stax Museum of American Soul Music. 

In addition to the things mentioned above, Memphis has one of the largest urban parks in Shelby Farms, tons of live music and plenty of places for kids love to run and play (like My Big Backyard). 

Places to fill your belly
Memphis is full of great restaurants and culinary delights.  We’re known for our staples - delicious barbecue and soul food, but our palate is vast. 

Central BBQ is a stone throw away from Liberty Bowl Stadium and the Bar-B-Q Shop on the other side of Midtown are local favorites. If you’re staying Downtown, you can’t go wrong with the Rendezvous or Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken.

You may have heard of Kelly English of Restaurant Iris and Second Line or even Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman of Hog & Hominy. Their cooking has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation and by Food & Wine. If you can score a table at one of these spots, better grab it while you can! A cupcake from Muddy’s is a perfect sweet for dessert.

Beer fans will want to try local beer like Wiseacre, High Cotton, Ghost River and Memphis Made. You can find these suds across town at places like Sweet Grass Next Door, Bardog, Boscos or Young Avenue Deli. 

Click here for more Memphis food ideas

For more information on the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, visiting Memphis or finding your way around the city, request a Visitors Guide, download our mobile app for iPhone and Android or follow us on twitter