The hours leading up to game time and the three hours of the game itself are six or seven of the best hours of a football fan’s week. Starting the day tailgating and mingling with your friends and fellow football fans, then immediately grabbing your seat and cheering on your team can be hard work. It’s important to make it as easy as possible to get to the game, set up your spot in the parking lot and then exit the lot when the game is over.
Before the Game
The first thing you need to know when setting up a tailgate at a Georgia Dome lot is that there are no guaranteed or reserved spaces. That makes the old saying “the early bird gets the worm” very appropriate when it comes to tailgating in Atlanta.
Right on the property of the Georgia Dome, you will find the Yellow Lot and Lot A. Both of these lots open at least five hours prior to the start of the game. When arriving that early, the traffic is pretty light in downtown Atlanta. You also have your choice of the prime spots in either lot. Remember, the Yellow Lot is more for large, multi-vehicle gatherings, while Lot A, or “The Gulch,” caters to smaller and single-car affairs.
The “Gypsy Lots,” or private lots in the neighborhoods around the Dome, open early as well. It’s not unusual to see 7 a.m. or earlier arrivals get the good spots and their grills fired up. These lots are many times not only easier to get set up in, but are also easier to exit after a Falcons win.
After the Game
After watching an exciting NFL game, it’s quite a downer to sit in traffic for about 90 minutes to get home. Why not keep the fun going with a little post-game tailgating action? It’s the perfect time for some leftovers and a little recapping of the game. Why sit in traffic when you can turn up the post-game show on the radio and enjoy a warm cup of coffee and some leftover burgers or pulled pork sandwiches? If you are in a hurry, fans have to leave at the end of the third quarter to beat the rush, but no one wants to do that. As a fan, you paid a king’s ransom for these tickets, so you should enjoy the entire game. After your little post-game meal, the traffic will have cleared and you will now have a clear shot up and down I-75 or 85.
If you don’t want to mess with driving down to the Georgia Dome and prepping for a tailgate, you might want to consider what locals call the “urban tailgate.” This is riding the MARTA or taking public transportation to the Georgia Dome or area around the CNN Center and eating at any of the great bars and restaurants that are located in the vicinity. The “Luckie Marietta” district is adjacent to the Georgia Dome and features such hangouts as Taco Mac, Max’s Coal Oven Pizza and Der Biergarten. Hang out before and after the game at your urban tailgate.
One last word of advice. Lock your cars and tailgating vehicles during the game.
Check out Tailgate Fan to keep the party going at tailgatefan.cbslocal.com.
Rick Limpert is a freelance writer/photographer in Atlanta and he loves covering anything Falcons-related. His work can be found at Examiner.com.