MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A picture perfect backdrop has greeted tens of thousands of Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Alabama Crimson Tide fans as they descend on South Florida in preparation for the Bowl Championship Series championship game.
“It cost a lot of money to have fun down here, but it’s worth it,” said Notre Dame fan John Bacon.
“You don’t get many chances to see Alabama play for the national championship,” said Alabama fan Kayo Penson. CBS4’s David Sutta replied with a laugh saying, “Actually, some people would say you get plenty of chances.”
Both teams claim more than 10 national championships and are two of the most stories programs in college football history. The teams have met six times, with Notre Dame coming out ahead five of those times. But the teams haven’t met in more than a decade.
“I was at the last National Championship in 1988 in Tempe,” said Philip Kierl. “I was eight-years-old; so I had to do this.”
Kierl made the trip without a ticket or even a hotel room.
“I kinda felt like I was watching the stock market,” Kierl said. “When we went into the National Championship, things went way up. And then things have kind of died down. I’ve waited till the last minute and gotten great deals.”
Other Notre Dame fans are following Kierl’s lead and hope to spend around $1,000 a ticket. Demand for the tickets has run high, especially for Notre Dame fans. The Fighting Irish haven’t been a serious contender for the national championship since 1988.
As of Friday, nosebleed seats had dropped to $800 on the secondary market. Roughly a month ago, the same seats were listed for $2,600. Just don’t expect other things in South Florida to drop their prices as well.
“This is kind of like the mini-Super Bowl for Miami,” said Mabel De Buenza of Loews Hotel. “You’ve got people coming here. They are here to spend money. They are here to have a really great time.”
South Florida is expecting to rake in more than $200 million in economic benefits from the Orange Bowl and the BCS National Championship game. It’s a great thing for the community, unless you happen to be a Miami Hurricanes fan.
“I like them because they are spending money,” said Hurricanes fan Burt Lopez. “I like Alabama. Well, wait, I don’t like Alabama.”
So what advice do die-hard fans give football fans in South Florida?
“You’ve got to route for the Irish,” said Kierl. “That’s pretty much your only option.”
“Just see red, when you look at the game just see red,” said Bamam fan Keyo Penson.
Fans who don’t make it into the game are planning on pulling up to a bar in South Beach and celebrate their team, regardless of who wins in the end.
In all, the South Florida area is expected to rake in about $200 million in tourism revenue.