Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tuscaloosa entertainment district hits downtown


The experience of hanging out on gameday includes tailgating, walking around campus, and eating delicious food. Previously, fans have been limited in their merrymaking outside of campus. But until September 30, temporary Downtown TTown Entertainment Districts will be located in downtown Tuscaloosa along University Boulevard and in the surrounding area, on gamedays. Although it is in its trial period, the entertainment district provides a place for visitors to maneuver downtown with a drink in hand.

Attention on Saturdays is focused on the game, whether it be at Bryant-Denny Stadium or playing in bars around town. The restaurants, retailers, and bars involved in creating the entertainment district want more and more gameday participants to know about the downtown district and try it out.

Currently, the entertainment district is in a trial period until September 30. The City of Tuscaloosa approved the trial period as a time to determine the viability of an entertainment district and whether or not it was a beneficial idea. There have not been issues with the Tuscaloosa Police Department or with trash in the district, said Dan Robinson, owner at Cravings specialty grocery. Robinson’s main hope is that more and more people will learn about the district and come check it out, while making sure that the district is a family-friendly zone where people can experience what downtown Tuscaloosa has to offer in a casual way.

Jack Calatrello, a senior majoring in Economics talked about how he would use the entertainment district as a way to hang around downtown.

“I would probably utilize the open carry rule to be able to go to Black Warrior Brewing,” Calatrello said. “I could grab a beer from Black Warrior and then just walk around downtown and hang out.”

Over the last few years, there have been many boutiques, restaurants, and bars popping up throughout downtown Tuscaloosa, including Cravings, Central Mesa, Babe’s Donuts and Animal Butter. All around the downtown area there are new places sprouting up that are still looking to cement their place. 

Having the entertainment district is a way for people to see the new places downtown and just roam free without having to worry about a drink in their hand. Attendees have the opportunity to get a drink from a bar and then discover the new boutiques and retail stores that downtown Tuscaloosa has to offer, in addition to the places that have been there already, like The Locker Room.

“If you only go to the places you know, you will never realize what you are missing,” Robinson said. “These are places you are not going to find on 15th Street or McFarland Parkway. For the most part, they are owned and operated by Tuscaloosa residents and even some UA graduates.”

The entertainment district only has one weekend under its belt, but the organizers of the district have their sights set on the future. The district is open every weekend during its trial period, including this weekend for the away game at Vanderbilt. Robinson mentioned wanting to create activities that attendees can take part of while they are downtown. With more attendees and more city support, the hope is that they can find sources of funds that can be used to finance activities.

Riley Rutledge, a senior majoring in secondary education and biology, expressed her interest in attending the entertainment district before its trial period is over. 

“I love the idea of having an entertainment district,” Rutledge said. “It allows you to check out the retail stores and local vendors. I feel like downtown is meant to be explored and having the entertainment district provides that. Also, it’s nice to walk from bar to bar trying different drinks without going to jail!”

As the district grows in popularity, it has the potential to expand its offering. If the district is approved for another trial period, or to become permanent, ideas for expansion include a movie night or even a way to screen the game, especially when the game is out of town.

As of now, the entertainment district has a Facebook page titled “Downtown Ttown Entertainment District”, where participating retailers, restaurants, and bars are encouraged to post gameday specials and news for attendees. Parking for the district is available on the street as normal, however there is a 24/7 free parking garage located next to the government plaza if no street parking is available.

This weekend, the district will be available during the day for Crimson Tide fans who still want to have the typical gameday atmosphere without having to travel to Nashville for the game. The entertainment district goes every weekend until 10 p.m. because as a whole, the district is meant to be a family-friendly zone and not just for drinking.

“If it’s a nice day and you can walk around casually with a drink in your hand,” Robinson said. “Hopefully this will allow people to look around at all of the new retailers and restaurants.”

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