Glendale prepares for national championship game with fun, food, & fans

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - The city of Glendale is next-door neighbors with Phoenix. The two are quite close in a Huntsville-Madison sort of way. But if you're on your way to watch the national championship game, you should know the difference between the two.

If you're flying into Arizona to watch the game, it's a good bet you will be flying into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, just like the WHNT News 19 team did on Wednesday.

A countdown clock running in the Phoenix airport (Photo: Drew Galloway)

A countdown clock running in the Phoenix airport (Photo: Drew Galloway/WHNT)

When you arrive, just picking up your luggage will find you face-to-face with ads for the College Football Playoff National Championship. People there are excited for the game, which takes place at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Except the stadium, and by extension, the game, is not in Phoenix. It's in Glendale.

Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers said, "A lot of people have misconceptions about our city."

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University of Phoenix Stadium (Photo: Drew Galloway/WHNT)

University of Phoenix Stadium isn't the only thing to Glendale, so we wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to the city.

Let's start with the people - there's a lot of them.

"First of all, we're the 72nd largest city in the nation. We're the fifth largest in the state of Arizona," Weiers said.

In fact, Glendale beats out Huntsville by a good margin with just over 250,000 residents.

Still, Mayor Weiers wants you to know, "We have that real home town feeling."

Downtown Glendale (Photo: Drew Galloway/WHNT)

Downtown Glendale (Photo: Drew Galloway/WHNT)

The city has a quaint downtown, but probably more importantly for Alabamians visiting, they have a love for football.

"The Cardinals have had over a hundred sellout games in a row, and that's something that a lot of people said would never happen in Arizona," Weiers said.

But it's not just the Cardinals. The city hosts a lot of big games.

"We just hosted the Super Bowl a year ago, the Fiesta Bowl a couple of weeks ago, Pro Bowl last year," Weiers said.

And now - the College Football Playoff National Championship.

If you're traveling out to Glendale to see the game, we want to give you a little advice about how to experience the city a little off the beaten path - the way locals do.

Weiers told us, "People are very receptive. People love to have them here. And they'll have an awful lot of fun."

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Westgate is ready for the national championship. (Photo: Drew Galloway/WHNT)

Right outside the stadium, there's one spot tourists almost always wind up - Westgate. You can't take a step in Westgate without tripping over a bar or restaurant. And all within easy-walking distance from the stadium.

But Westgate isn't the only place you can find a good time. The mayor recommends downtown Glendale.

Mayor Weiers said visiting downtown, "[is] an opportunity to enjoy the city, maybe at a little bit slower pace, enjoy life a little bit more, you're not rushed and pushed so much."

That is especially true this Saturday night, when Glendale hosts one of the year's largest city events called "Glitters and Glow," which features over 1 million lights in the downtown area and dozens of hot air balloons in the air.

If you come visit, Glitters and Glow sounds like a fun time.

The restaurant where we met Mayor Weiers, Desert Rose Steakhouse, is brand new, having just opened this week.  It's located on the edge of downtown Glendale.