When Alabama and Virginia Tech play the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta on Saturday, there won’t be an empty seat in the Georgia Dome. Apparently, Atlanta’s a pretty good place to have a football game.
Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer told the AJC so: “I was with [ESPN College Game Day host] Chris Fowler this summer and he said it’s like no other atmosphere he can remember during the regular season. We’re playing in a great city that really supports football.”
Virginia Tech sold its 31,000 tickets. Alabama sold their’s, too. In fact, all 72,000 seats are sold, and thousands more people are expected to come downtown just for the game day activities. Here’s a guide to what’s going on and how you ought to prepare yourself, whether you’re coming downtown for some fun or just avoiding the crowd.
EVENTS, TIMES AND LOCATIONS
6-10 p.m. Friday: Fan Night, Georgia Aquarium
The world’s largest fish tank will be open late on Friday for fans who buy tickets through the Kickoff Game Web site. Georgia Aquarium, 225 Baker St. Tickets cost $17, a discount off the standard $26.
10 a.m.-noon Saturday: ESPN’s College Game Day, Centennial Olympic Park
Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Desmond Howard from ESPN College Game Day will be on stage from 10 a.m. to welcome the college football season. Centennial Olympic Park, 265 Park Avenue West N.W. Free.
Noon-5 p.m. Saturday: Kickoff Cook-off, Georgia World Congress Center East Plaza
Six “grill specialists” will compete in a cook off, and Atlanta chefs will be on hand to offer some pointers on the perfect burger and steak. Georgia World Congress Center East Plaza, behind the Omni Tower North. Free.
Noon-6 p.m. Saturday: Kickoff Game FanZone, Georgia World Congress Center Bldg. A
Superlatives aside, the “world’s largest pep rally” will include bands, cheerleaders, mascots, food, music, merchandise and radio shows for both teams. Georgia World Congress Center Building A, off Foundry Street. Tickets are $5, available online or at the door.
3 p.m.-6 p.m. Saturday: Fan concert featuring Collective Soul and Drivin n Cryin, Centennial Olympic Park.
Two homegrown acts will perform for fans — or anybody that just wants to see a show. Centennial Olympic Park’s Great Lawn, 265 Park Avenue West N.W. Free.
4 p.m.-7 p.m. Saturday: Bama Bash and Tech Tailgate team parties, GWCC
Almost game time. Each team will have its own parties including live entertainment, cheerleader and mascot appearances and a full course meal. Tickets and info available on the Kickoff Game Web site. The Bama Bash will be in the Thomas Murphy Ballroom and the Tech Tailgate in Room A-411 of the Georgia World Congress Center. $65.
8 p.m. Saturday: Kickoff
If you’ve got a ticket to the sold-out game, you can watch it from the Georgia Dome. Otherwise, it’ll be broadcast on ABC.
Parking won’t be easy, but this isn’t Atlanta’s first go-round with a big event at the Georgia Dome, either. Advance parking at the Georgia Dome is sold out. Organizers suggest fans park in other lots around the Georgia Dome, Georgia World Congress Center and downtown garages or lots.
For those that don’t want to deal with parking prices or traffic, try MARTA — the Dome/GWCC/Philips/CNN stop off the East/West line will put you close to the action. A one-way fare costs $1.75, plus 50 cents for a Breeze Card. Here’s more fare info. For fans staying at hotels away from the MARTA line, plenty of free parking is available at end-of-the-line stations H.E. Holmes, Indian Creek, North Springs and Doraville, as well as free parking at many closer-in stations.
Organizers said there aren’t any significant street closings, but do expect a lot of cars on the road and a lot of pedestrian traffic, especially crossing between Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia World Congress Center and the Georgia Dome.
WHAT TO BRING
Georgia Dome: Small bags can come in, but will be searched. Small personal cameras are welcome. Lap-size personal televisions and radios are welcome, but they must have earphones.
WHAT NOT TO BRING
Georgia Dome: Outside food and beverages are not allowed in. (Remember, alcohol cutoff at the Georgia Dome for games that start after 6 p.m. is the end of halftime.) Laser pointers, weapons, noisemakers, balloons and “heelies” are prohibited, among other things. For more info, check out the Georgia Dome policies.
Centennial Olympic Park: No camp fires, cooking grills, glass containers, tents, patio umbrellas or unleashed pets are allowed, among other things. For more info, check out the Centennial Olympic Park policies.
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