Welcome to Atlanta, GA: A True Sports City
Is Atlanta a top 5 sports city in the US? Last week I was lucky enough to travel to the lovely city and it left a great impression on me. Besides everyone being so nice, polite, and helpful, one of the things that stood out is how crazy the people were over their sports teams.
Every city has its ups and downs for their sports franchises, Atlanta is obviously not immune to that, as they have lost their hockey team twice and right now their basketball team is struggling with attendance. However, their excitement for their rest of teams right now is almost overwhelming.
I landed there on Sunday and immediately went to an Atlanta Braves game. They Brave just opened up their brand new stadium last year named Suntrust Park. Not only is it a beautiful ballpark visually, but the attractions inside and outside of the stadium make you want to go there even if you aren’t a baseball fan.
Some of the attractions inside include a zip line, a rock climbing area, and a base to base running area to see how fast you can get from home to 1st. There is also a live batting cage, pitching and batting virtual reality area, and a bar that is so close to the action that you don’t have to go to your seat and you have to look out for home runs.
The view seems to be great from practically every seat in the stadium and a ticket in “Home Run Porch”, literally against the wall in left field, goes for a great price of less than $20. I was treated to a great comeback and the Braves came from down 9-4 in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Miami Marlins. The moment seemed unreal.
Outside of the stadium is called “The Battery”. The Battery is filled with numerous restaurants, play areas for kids, which include an AstroTurf field and a water section to run through. The Omni Hotel sits within the Battery and has a couple of unique-type places to eat like Archie’s. It doesn’t matter what type of food you like the Battery seems to have it.
To top it off, the bar-chain, Yardhouse, which has near to 200 different types of beers on tap, is located right outside the Suntrust Park exit. The giant bar outside the stadium entrance named “Live at the Battery” highlights the ballpark experience. Inside the two-level bar are places for foosball, golf, ping-pong, and countless TVs, including a large TV that appears to be about 200-300 inches.
Later that day, I made it to the also newly built Mercedes-Benz Arena, where the Atlanta Hawks and now the Atlanta United soccer team plays. It was my 1st soccer game and I couldn’t be more impressed. As soon as I took a step in the giant arena that you can see from the highway, the music was blasting, people were dancing, and the arena was practically shaking.
Unfortunately, the Atlanta United lost the game to the NY Red Bulls 3-1, but the energy of the crowd, and the overall atmosphere, which including chants, flag waving, and the eruption from the crowd from the 2nd goal that didn’t end up counting, was more than worth the ticket.
As I said earlier, everything can’t be perfect. The hockey team sold their team off to the team now known as the Winnipeg Jets and before that, they sold their team to the team now known as the Calgary Flames. The basketball team, the Atlanta Hawks, are struggling and was 1 of the 5 worst teams in the sport last year.
Probably the biggest negative for the city is its transit system. There are literally no trains. The main subway system in the area is named MARTA. However, MARTA only goes up to the Atlanta Airport, anything north of that is just buses. Because of that, traffic is 1 of the worst things in the city.
A trip that should be 5 mins, easily turns into 30+ minutes. Let’s just say if you are going to Atlanta, download the Uber app now. For a city that is growing as fast as they are, they need to get that situation figured out, especially by next year when they will be hosting the Superbowl.
Despite these bumps in the road, Atlanta fans are some of the most loyal fans you will find. Almost every kid has an involvement in a youth league soccer program. When you talk to people, they will talk your ear off about their professional and college teams.
Is Atlanta a top 5 sports city? I say yes. And with the Super Bowl, less than a year away, the City of Atlanta will once again be a highlight. You can be certain they will be sure to put on a show. Do yourself a favor and find a way to get there for at least once in your life, you will not regret it.