MOST FANS AT STADIUM: By the colors and cheering, it appears there might be more Notre Dame than Crimson Tide fans at Sun Life Stadium. Nonetheless, the stadium has not housed this much excitement in a long time.
CELEBRITIES BEGIN TO ARRIVE: The first celebrity spotted at Sun Life Stadium? Actor Vince Vaughn, who is wearing Irish green and is strolling on the Notre Dame sideline.
TEAMS ARRIVE AT STADIUM: Both teams have arrived at the stadium; the Alabama buses pulled into the stadium first, followed by the Notre Dame buses.
THE TRAFFIC: The SunPass toll on northbound Interstate 95 on the way to Sun Life Stadium is up to $7, one of the highest fees for the express lane. More than two years ago, fans heading to a Monday night Dolphins game against the New England Patriots paid $7.10 to travel between the Airport Expressway junction and the Golden Glades Interchange — seven miles.
AT THE NOTRE DAME HOTEL: Guests at Notre Dame’s Miami headquarters, the Westin Diplomat hotel in Hollywood, have been particularly active and busy today — except for one group. Hotel General Manager Ed Walls says its high-profile guests, the Notre Dame football players, have been lying low. "The players have been relaxing and quiet today," he says. "So we haven’t seen them much." Earlier in the week, he says, the players were "very accessible and a really great bunch of kids. They’re well-behaved ... you can tell they’re paying attention to their coach." Fans, alumni, former players and others staying at the hotel have been buying merchandise and enjoying the sunny weather, Walls says. Chicago radio station WLS is broadcasting live from the hotel. If Notre Dame wins Monday night, Good Morning America will broadcast live from the Westin Diplomat Tuesday morning. "It’s just a lot of good buzz," Walls says.
THE ALABAMA BAR: Mike “Dawg” Arnold, general manager at Alabama Jacks near the Keys, said not much of the staff is from Alabama, but the original owner of the restaurant was. His nickname was "Alabama Jack." Said Arnold: “It’s been a blast. I think [the Alabama fans are] coming here for good luck. In the last three days, I’ll say it’s been for every one Irish fan, we had 100 Alabama fans. We’ve had a blast with it. All the fans have had a great time." The bar won’t be hosting a watch party because the hours are 11 to 7 p.m. The games starts at 8:30. Instead, there will be a party offsite for the staff.
THE NOTRE DAME BAR: Jason DeCastro, managing partner at Finnegan’s River on Brickell in downtown Miami, said he’s mainly seen Notre Dame fans with a smattering of Alabama supporters. Sunday night, the restaurant screened Rudy and about 250 people came.
Starting at 4 p.m. Monday, Finnegan’s will host the official alumni watch party with an anticipated crowd of up to 2,000. "Some people are here now,” DeCastro said. “They’re all decked out." DeCastro said the restaurant’s link to Notre Dame is its Irish affiliation, and a lot of members of the Notre Dame alumni association frequent the restaurant. "They reached out to us because of the sheer amount of people who were coming down without tickets. They wanted some place where people could go to watch the game."
SPORTS FIGURE IN THE HOUSE: Joe Theismann, former Notre Dame quarterback, is at Sun Life Stadium signing autographs and hanging out with fans. Theismann, who went on to play for the Washington Redskins before retiring after a horrific leg injury, predicted victory for his alma mater, 24-17. “That’s my story and I’m sticking with it,” he said.