TAMPA — The buzz around college football's biggest showcase gets louder today, as multiple fan events kick off around Tampa Bay in advance of Monday's Clemson-Alabama game at Raymond James Stadium.
True die-hard fans may diligently stake out the arrival gates at Tampa International for glimpses of their favorite teams. Alabama is set to arrive at noon and Clemson at 4 p.m. For the rest, here's what's on the slate today:
• Fan central opens at the Tampa Convention Center from 3-8 p.m. Admission is $10 at the door for adults $8 advance via Ticketmaster); $5 for seniors, military and students; children 12 and under get in free. Expect games, pep rallies, band performances and more.
• The Playoff Playlist Live concert series — it's free — starts up at Curtis Hixon Park from 5 to 11 p.m. The headliner is country star Eric Paslay, along with the Shadowboxers and Clare Dunn. Stick around afterward for fireworks, weather permitting.
Downtown parking may be a challenge, especially around Curtis Hixon Park, which could see crowds of up to 30,000. The Poe garage, which is closest to the park won't be open to the public. But others, some several blocks away, will be open and should be easier to get to, officials say. From there? "I would say park as far away as possible and take an Uber in," City Hall spokeswoman Ashley Bauman said. "Or we have the Downtowner. We have the In-Towner. We have the street car. We have the water taxi. Use a Coast bike."
And we've got the latest news — on events and the teams — around the College Football Playoff weekend at http://tbtim.es/roadtotampa.
• Need to know: