Nightclub owner David Carson will be hard at work Thursday night when the Alabama Crimson Tide square off against the Texas Longhorns for college football’s national championship.
But the owner of Soho Bar & Grill on Milgen Road doesn’t plan to miss any of the action. The 1985 Alabama graduate plans to be right in front of the big screen at his club, rooting on his team with other Tide faithful.
“Every Alabama game is special. Even when we play the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, that’s big for me,” Carson said Tuesday, taking a cautious stance on the game out of fear he might jinx the Tide, which hasn’t tasted defeat this season at 13-0.
“I’m a creature of habit,” he said. “I’ll have my regular place where I watched every other game. And we’ll do chili dogs up here; we’ll have food out. That’s been the regular thing on every game day, so we’re not going to break the routine.”
Soho isn’t the only venue in the Columbus area that will welcome football fans for the Bowl Championship Series title tilt.
The Sports Page on Veterans Parkway will have more than 85 televisions — the biggest a 200-inch projection unit — upon which gridiron revelers can feast their eyes on the annual showdown between college football’s powers.
“We should have a good turnout,” said Sports Page owner Duk Soon Soerries. “This year Alabama’s been doing real good. So there’s lots of Alabama fans. They’re proud Alabama fans.”
But don’t think there won’t be any opposition for the Crimson Tide loyalists. Both Soerries and Carson said the U.S. military presence at Fort Benning creates an instant fan base locally from most universities and colleges.
“It mixes,” Carson said. “At our place, we get a good bit of military clientele. We get people from all over that come here. So Texas will be represented, I’m sure.”
Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill on Whittlesey Boulevard at Columbus Park Crossing also should see a good blend of Alabama and Texas fanatics, said general manager Everett Bailey. The 300-seat venue has 42 televisions.
“We’re going to be fully staffed and ready for it,” he said. “Of course, all of our people will be in their Alabama or Texas outfits and so forth, whichever they choose.”
The excitement should build to a crescendo across the Chattahoochee River in Phenix City as game time approaches Thursday, said Mavis Phillips, food and beverage manager at AJ’s Sports Bar & Grill, inside Quality Inn on U.S. Highway 280. There will be chili and the fixings, along with five televisions, the largest at 62 inches.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Phillips said. “We plan to have a big night. We always love for these big games to come, especially when it’s Alabama. There’s lots of excitement.”
There will even be some interest in enemy territory. Josh Wood, a manager at Loco’s Grill & Pub on South College in Auburn, Ala., said Tiger fans are his eatery’s primary customer base through the football season. But he expects plenty of Tide fans to show up for wings and TV viewing Thursday.
“They kind of come out of the woodwork whenever Alabama’s doing pretty good,” Wood said. “There were actually quite a few of them here for the Alabama-Auburn game.”
The Tide defeated the Tigers 26-21 in late November at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium during its push toward a perfect regular season.
ABC denies Carmike
One place, however, that college football fans won’t be able to view the championship game on a humongous screen is inside a Carmike Cinemas auditorium.
A year ago, the Columbus-based movie theater company showed the Florida Gators-Oklahoma Sooners matchup live in 30 of its theaters nationwide. The Fox network aired the game won 24-14 by Florida last January.
But not this year. ABC has the contest and Carmike’s content provider could not secure the rights for a 3D theater broadcast, said Richard Hare, Carmike chief financial officer.
“We did well with that,” he said. “It was a Thursday night, just like this year, and we put it in 30 of our theaters, and it was the top grosser for the night for the whole circuit. But this year ... nobody was able to get it. We hate that it’s not available.”