Monday, June 28, 2010

Memphis Tailgate and Visitors Guide '10

This is one of a series of tailgating guides for C-USA football schools written by Syracuse fan and tailgate aficionado TexanMark. If you have any feedback or additional information you think belongs in this guide, please drop an email message to Mark by clicking here.

World Famous Beale Street click to enlarge
Photo Source: Memphis Wallpaper

First Things first: GETTING THERE

Memphis is near the geographical center of Conference USA. UAB, USM, Tulsa, Tulane and SMU are all within 6-7 hours of Memphis and afford a fairly easy drive for a weekend visit. Memphis International is a major hub for Delta Airlines. Airtran airline offers some affordability to select cities. Another option is to travel through Little Rock Airport(LIT) about two hours away. Southwest serves the Arkansas capital. Amtrak offers New Orleans to Chicago area fans a nice alternative on the City of New Orleans train route. Greyhound is another option. Memphis is one America's great destinations. There is so much to do. The City of Memphis and the State of Tennessee both offer travel websites. Just a sampler of things to do in Memphis: Elvis and Graceland, Memphis Botanic Garden, Memphis Zoo, Mud Island River Park, Pink Palace Family of Museums, Memphis Queen Riverboat, Stax and Sun Studio Tours, Memphis Rock n Soul Museum, and lastly, World Famous Beale Street.

Those who like to gamble and have the time should drive about 20 miles south of downtown to the Casinos of Tunica, MS. The Tunica River Park is worthy of the drive to Tunica even if you don't gamble. If so inclined you can make this your base of operations for your stay as it is an easy drive to the Liberty Bowl.

Due to popular demand some Memphis fans gave me a few more places to visit during your stay (many of these are kid friendly): Chucalissa Museum and Archaeological site, Fire Museum of Memphis, Metal Museum, National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis Redbirds Baseball, Peabody Place--shopping and entertainment district, Childrens Museum of Memphis (steps away from the Liberty Bowl), and finally a link for more Parent/Child Activities.

The University of Memphis is actually about two miles east of the 62,000 seat Liberty Bowl (Memphis' Stadium). The Liberty Bowl is located on the Mid-South Fairgrounds about five miles southeast of downtown. So for the ones paying attention in class that means the University of Memphis Campus is about seven miles east of downtown. NOTE: The Mid-South Fair permanently relocated to northern Mississippi in 2009.

The Liberty Bowl Seating Chart Click to enlarge

Directionsfrom the old Mid-South Fairgrounds website
In Memphis:
The Mid-South Fair was conveniently located in the center of Memphis, TN at the Mid-South Fairgrounds up till this year, 940 Early Maxwell Blvd., bound by Central Avenue on the North, Southern Avenue on the South, Hollywood on the East and East Parkway on the West. The Fairgrounds complex also is the site of the Mid-South Coliseum and Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, which made the fairgrounds the entertainment hub of the Mid-South.

From Tennessee on I-40:
Stay on I-40, it will turn into Sam Cooper Blvd. Take Sam Cooper Blvd. until it dead ends at East Parkway. Take a left on East Parkway. Continue on East Parkway through three traffic lights. The third light will be Central Avenue. After crossing Central, the Mid-South Fair will be directly on your left about a block.

From Mississippi on I-55:
After entering Memphis, follow the signs to Nashville which will put you on I-240. The second exit is Airways Blvd. (North/South) Take Airways Blvd. North. After 2 or 3 miles the street will have a grass median with trees and you should be able to see the Mid-South Fair on the right. The entrances are located on the street surrounding the Fairgrounds.

From Arkansas on I-40:
After driving through West Memphis, AR, take East 40 Memphis/Nashville and drive over the new bridge. After passing the Danny Thomas exit, take 240 South to Jackson, MS, then immediately take Madison Avenue exit. Go East on Madison Avenue for several miles until you get to East Parkway. Take a right on East Parkway. After a few blocks you will see signs for the Mid-South Fair.

Tailgating and Parking:

Memphis fans love tailgating and it shows in the parking lots surrounding the Liberty Bowl. The normal southern traditions of RVs and BBQ is all around. A new addition to 2010 (Tiger Lane) should be a huge hit and help the game day ambiance.

Tiger Lane

A $15M project to install grass, trees, and electrical outlets to enhance tailgating is being installed during the summer on 2010. You have to be a member of the Highland Hundred to buy a parking spot on Tiger Lane. If you don't have a spot you can still walk down and enjoy the scene.

Note: Some of the parking information is still being finalized so the information below concerning Liberty Bowl below parking might be in slight error. It will be updated soon.

Tiger Lane--Artist Rendition

All the parking information is from Trips Tigers and fellow Memphis Fans at the NCAABBS Memphis Internet Forum--Thanks. Both websites are awesome with information about the Tigers. With the Liberty Bowl's location near the fairgrounds it offers a lot of parking choices. Visiting fans should be able to find a lot which allows them a great chance to tailgate in close proximity to their other visiting fans if you plan ahead. I suggest either the mid-south coliseum or the old fairgrounds parking areas or some of the lots north of the stadium (i.e. Board of Education, Tobey Park, etc...) Like anything: the earlier you arrive the better the choices you have. If you arrive 3-4 hours before kickoff you should have many lots available and less traffic.

Parking Lots with RVs Click to enlarge

Parking Lots Near the Stadium click to enlarge

Best parking for Memphis fans who want to be close and expect to attend most/all games is to join the Highland Hundred. Your membership allows parking/tailgating along Liberty Lane or the Blue 15 lot. Tailgating is fabulous here--so if you are a Memphis Fan or a lucky guest, this is the best Memphis has to offer. As of summer 2010 the RV plan hasn't been finalized due to the Liberty Lane addition. However, expect to see RVs coming in the night before. For Visiting Fans of the Opponent: The gates are open for almost all lots and if you arrive in an RV the day before I suggest you park near the Mid-South Coliseum or the Fairgrounds Area. If you are unsure of things--walk over to the Highland Hundred Area (liberty Lane/Blue Lot 15) and the Fans will tell you the "scoop". There are supposed to be RV hookups near Libertyland (Brown 15 and 19 areas) but generally not recommended due to the distance to the stadium and the distance you'll be away from others.

Liberty Bowl Parking Map Easy to read

Liberty Bowl Parking Map--North Direction Facing Up

Lots For Visiting Fans:
The following lots offer you the best chance for tailgating together as a group:

MidSouth Coliseum: Parking ranges from $5 to $10 depending on how close you are to the stadium. If there is no one taking money and the lot (applies to all lots) is open you can drive in and park anyway. Someone may come around and take your money later. MidSouth Coliseum is a traditional parking lot with lots of porta potties.

Fairgrounds offers alot of parking and is just a short walk east to the stadium. Hint: Every third weekend in the month they have a well attended flea market there. The main lot entrance is off Early-Maxwell Blvd just south of the Blue Lot (permit only). You can drive down and park I the vicinity of the flea market buildings (Youth Bldg, Bldg 196 and the Pipken Bldg, Bldg 158) Stadium is only about 200 yards east. The area can get congested an hour or two before kickoff. Hint: It is best to approach the fairgrounds for public parking from Parkway Ave (west side of fairgrounds) or from Southern Ave (south side of fairgrounds) and avoid the Central Ave/Early-Maxwell Blvd intersection during peak times.

Christian Brothers University located about 1/3 mile north of the stadium across Central Avenue. COST $ 5 a game (season pass available) This lot is good for a quick exit (onto Central then to Parkway Ave). Some limited grassy spots available for tailgating...some bathrooms and a snackbar on campus.

Frank Tobey Park 1/3 mile north of stadium across from Central Ave. Cost is free--don't park on the grass. Bathrooms might be open (great if your tailgating with a bunch of guys but possibly no bathrooms could be an issue--check with the females in your party first LOL). HINTs: During heavy traffic best to enter from the east off of some side streets. Memphis students love to tailgate in Tobey Park.

Shelby County Board of Education 1/2 mile north of stadium across Central Avenue. Gameday Parking $5 Restrooms may be (same issue as the park)available at Tobey Park located just to the southeast. Parking Location: 160 S Hollywood St.

Lastly, Lots just SE and SW of the Central/Hollywood Intersection. Some private lots south of the old Walgreens. Porta potties are reported to be available. Expect to pay about $10. The Children's Museum is across the street at the SW corner of the Central/Hollywood Intersection also offers parking.

NOTE: During peak times it is best to avoid S. Hollywood Ave (turns into a one way street on gameday) between Central and Southern Avenues.

NOTE: I have populated a map found at MapGameDay with most of the places talked about here (be patient it might take 20 seconds to load). This wonderful website has informational maps on most major colleges. When the map opens up click on "Show All Places" Look for the upsidedown "White Teardrops" under the title "tailgate" for parking info supplied to me by Trip's Tigers. NOTE: the maps can take 20 seconds to laod. HINT: The website allows you to register and create your own private maps for your tailgate party to use.

NOTE: Parking for the Liberty Bowl Game in Late December is here. Looks like RV parking is in the old "LibertyLand" Amusement Park complex.

ELVIS LOVES TAILGATES AND THE TIGERS--click to enlarge (Thanks MissJ)


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Other Sports Flags:
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Did you forget something? You dummy, however there are a few places within a mile or two to help you out. Bottomline: Central Avenue will be busy, so it is best to avoid it. Check out the Google map here to give you some ideas. There isn't a WalMart nearby but a Kroger is located about 2 miles northeast of the Liberty Bowl near the University.

Ticket Scalping and You:

I am not a legal expert and I recommend you check with local authorities before buying or reselling on the street. Memphis fans told me it is illegal to buy/sell on the Stadium Grounds but okay off the premises. Best place to buy: parking lots and sidewalks, another area is along Central Avenue and South Hollywood.

Hint: For Tiger Fans Only--hangout in your Tiger Gear near Gate 1--for the lesser games you can usually get a ticket from a fan for free who has extras.

A few tried and true techniques to get the best price buying: 1. Know what a legit ticket looks like 2. Buy from your own fan base first 3. The smaller the group the smaller the price--single tickets are cheapest 4. Prices usually peak 1-2 hours before kickoff--inside an hour the closer to game time the cheaper the ticket, right after kickoff they plummet to near nothing 5. A fan walking to the stadium in with a group of friends and still holding extra tickets to sell will usually dump them for a cheap price (they do not want to miss the game and often they are doing a favor for a buddy to sell them) usually you'll spot them holding a finger or two out to their side or over their head or saying selling one, etc... 6. If you have to deal with a professional scalper--NEVER give him what he asks, have a seating chart with you, check to make sure all tickets are really together and for that game, offer him lower and be prepared to walk away, after you turn and walk away more than half the time in my experience they'll give in and take your offer, if you can afford to wait...wait inside 20 minutes to kickoff as see the prices drop (assess the situation for the number of tickets available, how many you need before employing that strategy) 7. Don't be embarrassed to go back to a scalper to buy ticket(s) 10 minutes after you said no to his previous offer 8. Don't fall for their tactics to make you feel like you're ripping them off by "only offering $20 a ticket", etc...they love to play games with your self-image and ego.

TAILGATEWIKI--Total Tailgating Resource is designed loosely on the wikipedia concept that anyone with internet access is considered an expert in the field and can contribute their personal knowledge in an online arena. Wikipedia covers all areas whereas Tailgate Wiki focuses on tailgating and improving the game day atmosphere. Because many fans
follow their team when they play on the road, Tailgate Wiki will serve as a resource for those fans to understand what to expect when they get there. Kind of like having a friend in every city, at every stadium, giving you the inside scoop on the best places to park, tailgating policies and much more. This is all user generated content and the goal is to benefit the entire tailgating community.


Memphis being a geographic crossroads, regional/national business center and toursit town offers a large amount of lodging options. The bad news is there are no lodging options real close to the Liberty Bowl.

CLOSEST: A motel fairly close is the newly branded, Country Hearth Inn (nee: Artisan Motel). The old hotel had mixed reviews but I'm sure improvements have been made with the affiliation to a regional chain. The next closest motel, the Holiday Inn is next to the University. It has great reviews.


If you decide to stay near Beale Street these hotels come recommended: The new Westin is very convenient to the FedEX Forum and Beale Street, The Peabody is famous for the ducks, the Hampton Inn and Suites and the Holiday Inn Select all are close to the action. A new recommendation near Beale for the Budget Minded Traveler, the newly renovated Vista Inn Motel. The motel has generally recieve good reviews.

Peabody Ducks

If you want to stay Downtown (a few blocks north of the Beale Street Area Hotels) try these places: The Madison is a classic historic Hotel, Springhill Suites by Marriott, and the Residence Inn. I personally stayed at the Comfort Inn Downtown and had an excellent room and they had a very good breakfast. Finally, an overview map showing downtown lodging. Finally, if you are on a budget you can try looking in the outlying suburbs. West Memphis, Arkansas has a ton of motels for the budget traveler. The eastern suburbs also offer alot of options. Finally this guide offers you many different small "Mom and Pop" type motels. I can't vouch for any of them but they'll give you some options.

Memphis Trolley

The Memphis Trolley offers you a convenient run between Beale St/FedEX/Baseball Stadium area and the hotels downtown. You can stay downtown and run down to Beale Street area and not not worry about parking. Multi-Day, All passes, etc... can be bought at the North End Terminal Center. A single passenger ride is $1.


The airport is only about four miles south of the Liberty Bowl. There are alot of motel options there. It is possible for those flying in for a quick trip to stay near the airport and get a cab to the game.


Memphis with its location as a geographic and cultural crossroads offers an outstanding array of food choices. A nice compilation of the best of Memphis is here and it is also here.

Gus's Fried Chicken has a reputation nationally for some of the best chicken you can eat--period! It is located a few blocks west of FedEX Forum. Try Frank Grisanti for upscale Italian downtown at the Embassy Suites Hotel or Ronnie Grisanti and Sons. The restaurant specializes in Tuscan Italian fare. It is at 2855 Poplar Ave about a mile NE of the stadium. Italian Food at a more moderate price try Pete and Sam's Restaurant on Park Ave near the Memphis Campus. Another lower priced choice is Brooklyn Bridge out in the eastern suburb of Germantown. How about a great brew pub with a nice food menu? Try Boscos and see why natives rave about it. Another place with an outstanding collection of beer is the Flying Saucer downtown. Looking for a good Pizza? Try Exlines, located all over Memphis. For a New York Style Pizza try Little Italy in mid-town. Craving a good burger try Huey's or Tops (located all over Memphis--see BBQ section). If you are downtown and really hungry for a burger, try Kooky Canuck aka Big Foot Lodge. If you can finish the 4 lb burger in 60 minutes it is free! Another excellent restaurant downtown is the Mesquite Chop House. They are know for good steaks and a fantastic Sunday Brunch. The South is known for Catfish--if you want this try Flying Fish downtown or the Soul Fish located about a mile of the stadium. For steak try Buckley's (one close by on Popular Ave--good value) or the more upscale Jim's Place, Jim's Place Grille, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar or , or Folk's Folly on the east side of town.
Jim's Place Grille Home of Fine Food and Drinks

Not a lot of fast food near Beale Street but South Philly Cheese steak is nice change from the typical burgers. It offers a couple TVs and a great place to relax. In Peabody Place you can find a full service sports bar in Primetime (used to be Jillian's). Also in Peabody Place is a meat lovers paradise, Texas de Brazil. A Brazilian (churrascaria) Steakhouse. Along with Food and drinks they also offer billiards and video games. Finally, Blues City Cafe and Rum Boogie come recommended by the locals as the two Beale Street places they like.


Memphis is world famous for Barbeque. One can argue which Barbeque is better: Memphis, Texas, Carolinas, Kansas City, etc...One fact stands clear: Memphis Barbeque shouldn't be missed!

Downtown/Beale Street Area:
Neely's has great food in the "Historical District" of Memphis, between the Medical Center and downtown, Charles Vergo's Rendezvous (for Ribs), Leonard's Barbeque Downtown (A very good BBQ Buffet). I visited Memphis in December 08. A few other local restaurants on Beale Street that come recommend:

Near Downtown/Midtown:
Jim Neely's Interstate BBQ has some great ribs and sandwiches and his some say his secret sauce is the difference, Payne's Barbecue is located in an old store front...don't fear...your taste buds won't mind! Memphis fan TigerKeep raves:
There is a little joint that is special to Memphis called Payne's. It is at mcclean and lamar in an old service station that has been converted to bbq joint (all the best are like this). The pork is sliced or chopped, not pulled as most great bbq. However, the sliced pork sandwich with a combination hot and mild (sweet) sauce is a little bit of heaven. There are fried pies and deep fried smoked sausage sandwiches with slaw. If you want a unique Memphis experience definitely try Payne's.
The Cozy Corner has alot of fans...try the cornish game hen. The Bar-B-Q Shop is considered by many locals to have the best BBQ (pulled pork sandwiches are especially good) around. The Shop is also noted for a great selection of BBQ stuff to purchase under the Dancing Pigs label.

University/Liberty Bowl Area:
Top's Barbeque has great BBQ Sandwiches and has locations all over Memphis. Memphis fans prefer the restaurant just south of campus. Top's is very appropriate for a quick BBQ sandwich meal and most Memphis folk have a soft spot for the chain. Central Barbeque is a relatively new place but has a bunch of fans. It is conveniently located near the Liberty Bowl.

East Side:
Corky's has gone into franchising throughout the southeast. It has its fans for its excellent BBQ. If you are out in the eastern suburbs try the Commissary Barbeque in Germantown.

HUNGRY, YET? (Commissary BBQ)

SPORTS BARS: On game day if you have some time to kill--try Newby's near the Campus. It is a great live music venue but it converts into a sports bar during Saturday afternoons. At night is is a great night club with regional/national acts. There is a Buffalo Wild Wings east of the Liberty Bowl (Popular Ave) close to the campus. If you have never been to one they offer Chicken Wings as well as burgers, salads, etc...The good news is they have ESPN Gameplan, CBS College Sports, Versus and numerous TVs so you should be able to watch as much college football as you can handle. Lastly, the Bobcat on Popular near the campus offers TVs on game day although the website says it opens at 4pm. If you are hanging out downtown before or after the game--Peabody Place has Primetime. Primetime is an upscale Billiard Hall, Video Game Emporium, Restaurant, Sports Bar and meeting place. About 7 blocks south of Beale St. is Calhoun's Sports Bar and is a favorite among the locals. It's a friendly hole-in-the wall with the best bartenders in town and a great host, Max. Rabid Tiger fans gather there for all the games. TJ Mulligan's has several locations around town and carry football games on Saturday and Sunday. About two miles east of the University is a neat locally owned sport bar called the Brookhaven Pub. They offer all the college TV (like Gameplan) looks great. Hungry for Wings with your sports? Try Ching's Wings near the University. Finally, a decent sports bar website for places around the US.

SHOPPING (for the non football watching spouse)

There are several antique shops in the city. Chickasaw Oak's Plaza and LaurelWood Shopping Center have enough to keep her busy for several hours and are close to the stadium. If she is looking for a large Mall try WolfChase Galleria in Bartlett/Cordova Area and Oak Court Mall. Oak Court Mall is an upscale, two-level center featuring Italian marble, skylighting, and original bronze sculptures. Our most unique architectural feature is the famous rolling marble ball that is powered exclusively by water at the 4400 block of Popular. If your spouse is staying downtown for the game Peabody Place will offer some shopping but it is having occupancy issues and won't have too much. Finally, a very unique store in the Beale Street area. It is a place guys will enjoy as much as the ladies. A. Schwab Dry Goods Store is a local institution.

This should almost be listed as a tourist designation but a Bass Pro Store and entertainment center will be set up in the old Pyramid downtown. Opening is set for late 20011.


Memphis offers a wide range of golfing options and due to its southern location you should have golf weather through the end of the season.

Local Munis for the quick round--hackers welcomed
The Links at Audubon is a very popular course in the city. It is located next to the campus and only about two miles from the Liberty Bowl. The website said,
Playing at over 6,400 yards and featuring small greens averaging less than 3,000 square feet, come prepared with your "A" iron game if you want to challenge par.
Check out the reviews. The Links at Galloway is another muni very close to the University and is a good value.

Another interesting course Glen Eagles Golf Course is actually at the old local Naval Air Station (NAS Memphis) in the northern suburb of Millington. The course is well maintained and isn't usually crowded. Another gem in Millington is Orgill Park Golf Course. It is definitely worth checking out.

Orgill Park Golf Course

Cherokee Valley Golf Course

Nice Public Courses for the Better Golfer
Three in the southern suburb of Olive Branch, MS standout (just over the stateline). The Plantation and Cherokee Valley Golf Courses afford a round and cart for under $50. The Cherokee website says:
Nestled among gently rolling hills, Cherokee Valley Golf Club extends a challenging game to golfers of all skill levels. Eleven lakes and 78 bunkers may seem to intimidate, but wide fairways and clean roughs are very forgiving. The 18 hole par 72 course ranges from 6751 yards at the rear tees to 4422 at the forward tees.
The Wedgewood Golfers Club offers several layouts for golfers of all skill levels and is a nice value. The serious golfer should consider Olive Branch for your golf fix.

The Wedgewood's Clubhouse

Quail Ridge offers some hills uncommon to Memphis in the northest suburb of Bartlett. It is a great value and offers some specials. It was voted the best public course in Memphis by the readers of the local newspaper.

Mirimichi Golf Course is opening July 2009. It promises to be a great challenge. It is about 15 mins north of Downtown.

Finally, the Tournament Players Course at Southwind offers the total experience for the well connected golfer as it is private. It is located in the southeastern suburb of Germantown. If you get the chance to play (by invitation) it should be a great experience. One other Private course worthy of mention is the Colonial Country Club located in the northeastern suburb of Cordova. Like the TPC you shouldn't turn down a chance to play.

The opinions expressed in this guide are those of TexanMark. While every effort has been made to ensure all the information presented is accurate and current, it would be wise to verify things when possible. Please note that this guide is not endorsed by, or its site publishers, administrators and/or moderators.

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