Birmingham gears up for BBVA Compass Bowl

Miami isn't the only city cashing in on college football. Hotels are booked and football fans are descending on The Magic City.

Ole Miss and Pitt will face off in the BBVA Compass Bowl this weekend. The fans are expected to spend millions.

Bowl reps say ticket sales are on pace to exceed the record set in 2010, when attendance was a little over 42,000. With having an Ole Miss fan base that travels well, and a short distance to Oxford.

Local businesses and hotels are ready to roll out the welcome mat.

"It's going to be the biggest day of the year for us," James Claborn, manager of Jim 'n Nicks BBQ in Five Points, looks forward to this weekend, more than any other. "National exposure on television, it brings people to the Five Points area, which never hurts, it's the entertainment center of Birmingham. So, the more the merrier," says Claborn.Certainly, thousands more will descend on the Birmingham area in the coming days.

The Sheriton and Tutweiler hotels downtown are booked up for the weekend.

In the last six years, the BBVA Compass Bowl has generated more than $63 million for the area, during a time of year that is typically slow for tourism.

In Hoover, Andy Peters general manager of the Wynfrey hotel welcomed the Pitt Panthers earlier on Tuesday.

Peters says all 220 rooms are sold out this weekend.

"It's always a very exciting time for us," says Peters. "It's a really great thing to have, especially this week after New Years. This is a really great time for a bowl game to help give the economy a little shot in the arm."

The BBVA Compass Bowl has been played in Birmingham since 2006.{} It kicks off Saturday at noon on ESPN.