Notre Dame takes on the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. in Norman, Okla. If you’re making the trip out here to Oklahoma, here are some events sponsored by Notre Dame and/or the Alumni Club of Oklahoma City. Everything is in the general Oklahoma City-Norman area. I’ll add more as I hear about them, and please leave a comment if you have anything to add.
On Friday, Oct. 26:
- The Notre Dame Club of Oklahoma City will host an outdoor pep rally at 8 p.m. Friday at the Myriad Gardens Great Lawn on Sheridan Avenue in downtown Oklahoma City. (The Great Lawn is the open grassy area in front of the band shell and right across the street from the brand-new Devon Energy Tower, the tallest building in Oklahoma City. Can’t miss it.) [Myriad Gardens map, but Google Maps might not show Devon Tower or the Great Lawn because they’re so new.]
- Speakers will include Dolly Duffy, Notre Dame Class of 1984 and executive director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association, as well as Jason Beckstrom, an Oklahoma native and a member of the ’99 Fighting Irish team (the last Notre Dame team to face Oklahoma).
- The rally also will feature a performance by the Notre Dame Marching Band, and probably some help from the Notre Dame cheerleaders and Leprechaun (who explained his job to The Oklahoman this week).
- This event is free, open to the public and no reservations are required.
- Parking: If you’re in a downtown OKC hotel, just walk. Otherwise, there should be plenty of street parking around the Myriad Gardens. If you can’t find any free spots, go to the parking garage at Sheridan and Walker avenues. It’s just one block west of the Gardens. [Parking garage map]
On Saturday, Oct. 27:
- ESPN College Gameday will broadcast from OU’s campus in Norman starting at 8 a.m. from the South Oval in front of the Bizzell Library. (Tough act to follow after Touchdown Jesus.) [South Oval map]
- The Notre Dame band will practice on Noble High School’s football field from approximately 1:15 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Noble High School is at 4601 East Etowah Road in Noble. The rehearsal is free and open to the public. [Noble High School map]
- The club is sponsoring a game day Mass at noon on Saturday at St. Mark’s Catholic Church, 3939 West Tecumseh Road in Norman. [St. Mark’s map]
- On game day, the Notre Dame Club of Oklahoma City will host a tailgate party in the northeast corner of the Lloyd Noble Center parking lot at Jenkins Avenue and Imhoff Road in Norman, about one mile south of the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Starting at 3 p.m. (four hours before the 7 p.m. kickoff), the club will offer all-you-can-eat concessions, beer, large-screen television, games, musical entertainment, free adjacent parking and shuttle rides ($2) to the stadium and back. Tickets are $40 at the event. Contact Mike Milligan at (405) 525-8331, ext. 1, for any questions. [Lloyd Noble Center parking lot map]
- If you don’t have game tickets: Weather permitting, you can stick around at the tailgate to watch the game on a big-screen TV. Or, you can head over to the friendly confines of McNellie’s The Abner’s Ale House in downtown Norman. This establishment is owned by ND graduate Elliot Nelson ’01 and promises a pro-Irish atmosphere. [Map from tailgate to Abner’s Ale House.]
- Game parking: From what I understand, any parking at the Lloyd Noble Center is free. So, if you come before the tailgate officially starts or won’t be buying tickets to the tailgate, that’s fine. SoonersSports.com also has more information about driving directions and parking. [Lloyd Noble Center parking lot map]
- Other vital information about Norman and the OU campus: The Norman Convention and Visitors’ Bureau has some fun facts about Norman and OU gamedays, such as this gem: “It’s illegal to take a bite of someone’s hamburger in Norman, Oklahoma, but ticket scalping outside the stadium is totally legal.”
If you’re staying in or near downtown Oklahoma City:
- Watch out for construction! Your GPS probably won’t know that I-40 has been torn down and moved to the south this year. A few streets in western OKC are still kind of a mess, too, so drive carefully. You’ll take I-35 south to Norman on game day, but that should be pretty easy.
Cattlemen’s Steakhouse in the historic Stockyards City is delicious, a famous dinner destination and pretty reasonably priced. It’s a short 10-minute drive from downtown Oklahoma City, but again, watch out for the I-40 changes! Take this route if you’re coming from the downtown or Bricktown area:
- Get on Reno Avenue (also called Johnny Bench Drive) going west, and when you get to the intersection with Western Avenue, look for and take a slight left onto Exchange Avenue. Take Exchange all the way into Stockyards City, which will look just like you expected an old Western town to look like. [Map from Devon Energy Tower to Cattlemen’s]
Bricktown, a new development right in downtown OKC, is full of restaurants, bars, hotels, a bowling alley, giant bronze statues and a canal with boat tours of the area. Find more here: bricktownokc.com
- Avoid the underwhelming Spaghetti Warehouse and In the Raw sushi, but we really like Zazmoz for Cajun food, TapWerks and Bricktown Brewery for drinks and pub food and Toby Keith’s for burgers.
- For lunch or inexpensive dinner, try Texadelphia, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop or Earl’s for BBQ.
- Parking: If you need to park in this area, don’t pay for it! Go over to the huge lots by Bass Pro Shops and behind Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill, accessible from Reno Avenue (also called Johnny Bench Drive). [Map of Bricktown parking lots]
- Flint, the restaurant in the Colcord Hotel, is pretty darn good for brunch (reasonably priced) and dinner (little more expensive), and it’s right across the street from the Myriad Botanic Gardens, where the pep rally will be Friday night. [Map of Flint]
- The memorial park is across the street from St. Joseph Old Cathedral, which was also damaged in the bombing but is still going strong today. (This is where my fiance and I attend Mass.) [Map of St. Joseph Old Cathedral]
Gas is cheap in Oklahoma.
But in case you need some more gameday fuel, take a look at all the ways Sooner fans HATE Notre Dame.
- “I assure you it’s possible to be Catholic and root against Notre Dame.“
- “A bunch of papist hooligans had stolen the game from the mighty Sooners.”
- And this hilarious troll: “I am a big OU fan, but I am not mad at the 1-8 record, or them snapping our losing streak, or because they’re Catholic. I hate Notre Dame because they didn’t let Rudy play until the last game. That just really frustrated me. JUST LET THE KID SUIT UP FOR HIS SENIOR SEASON!”