The Atlanta Falcons entered the NFL in 1966 as an expansion team and have frustrated fans ever since. Last year, the team was finally able to put together two winning seasons in a row for the first time in franchise history. They've made the playoffs nine times in their history, and even the Super Bowl back in 1998.
The team plays downtown at the Georgia Dome, which opened in 1992. The Dome is located in the heart of downtown Atlanta. To its right you will find Philips Arena and the CNN Center. Behind the dome is the World Congress Center, with Centennial Olympic Park and other Atlanta tourist attractions nearby.
Getting to the Georgia Dome can be fast and easy or slow and difficult. Take MARTA public transportation and get off at the Dome/Philips Arena stop or the Vine City stop. Vine City is less crowded and can be a shorter walk. If you want to drive, there are private parking lots in the neighborhoods around the Dome. Parking fees run $15 to $30. On-site parking is reserved for VIPs and season-ticket holders. Traffic is very congested around the Dome before games, so take the MARTA if you can.
In recent years, a budding tailgating scene has formed in various spots outside the Dome, like "the Gulch," which also sometimes features local radio station contests and free Falcons gear. The Falcons host a pregame festival on the lawn in front of the Dome, which includes games for kids, food vendors and bands.
If You Go: The Georgia Dome is a great place to watch a football game. Most seats have great sightlines and are roomy. While all the seats in the lower level give a prime view of the action, the Club level sits you a little higher up and provides access to upscale restaurants and an exclusive sports bar.
Thanks largely to the city's diverse and cosmopolitan makeup, fans of the visiting team are typically there in force and vocal. Tickets usually can be had even for the biggest games. Wait up until game time and you can get a good deal right outside the stadium.
If You Don't Go: Head on over to STATS sports bar in Downtown Atlanta, at 300 Marietta St. It's the most upscale sports bar you will ever set foot in. The food is great and there is a wide selection of beverages. STATS also features Table Tap - you get your own beer tap at your table, a computer keeps track of how much you drink and you are charged when you close out your tab. Fans gather at STATS for every Atlanta sporting event, but Falcons fans are the most boisterous. STATS has a television everywhere you look and a friendly staff.
Downtown Atlanta is a great place to hang out after a day game. Centennial Park is open, as are an assortment of restaurants and markets in the area. MARTA is the safest, quickest and easiest way out of the area. Remember, if you are heading to points north and south, you will have to change trains at the 5 Points station where Underground Atlanta is located. MARTA offers extra train cars to carry more people to and from the stadium on game days.
The players park in an undisclosed underground area so autograph seeking outside the stadium is tough. But some players loiter around the field for a while after the game, so if you can get down to the lower levels and near the players exit on the field, you may be able to get a Falcon signature.
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