Visiting Atlanta means coming to a world class city, and the sheer size and vitality of this community can be
instantly felt when coming upon the Georgia World Congress Center, a large convention complex which
includes the Georgia Dome. Since its opening in 1991, this venue has become a major player in hosting
many of the world's most prestigious sporting events. As this building goes into its decade of existence it
has been witness to several key events of an Olympic Games, two Super Bowls, many SEC Championship
football games, the SEC and ACC basketball tournaments, and so much more. Now wonder that on both of
our visits, we left the venue with favorable impressions.

Getting to the Venue
The Georgia Dome is located on the west side of downtown Atlanta, and be accessed off of I-20 which runs
east and west, or I-75 traveling north and south. Once on downtown streets, directions are not too well
marked but just head west towards Centennial Park and you can't help but find it. Most of the surface parking
lots east of the venue are reserved for season ticket holders, meaning permit required. But there are plenty of
private lots scattered throughout downtown but that means a good 15 minute walk to the stadium. $15
seems to be the norm for private lots. Better yet, the best way to get here is to take public transportation. The
MARTA rail line runs in all four directions around the city and many stations have free park and ride lots. Go to
station W-1 and you are steps from the front door of the stadium, with no traffic or parking hassles.

Outside the Venue
In addition to the World Congress Center, Phillips Arena and the CNN Center is also right next door and just
beyond that is Centennial Park. Downtown Atlanta is pretty clean and safe and bustling. The reserved lots
are pretty hopping as far as tailgating is concerned, but the occasional visitor might have a hard time finding
a good place to set up a tailgate party. No matter! The team has set up a neat pre and post game party area
outside the Dome called "Falcons Landing", complete with live music, cheerleaders and mascots, plenty of
games and concessions and much more. All this in the shadow of a sleek and modern stadium - wine red
and tan brick colored facade with smoked glass atrium style entrances at each corner.

Seating bowl
This facility seats over 71,000 for Falcons games and is split into the three level setup commonly found in
the newer facilities we have visited. A lower level, a club level with suites and an upper level. The roof here is
a major break from the older domes that are supported by air pressure. This roof here is made of teflon and
supported by cables.

The seating area is rather bright with the dominant seating color being teal, being the home of the Falcons
we would have preferred it to be black but we suppose you can't have everything.  There are small jumbotron
video boards dispalyed on the second level of each endzone and numerous ribbon boards and dot matrix
boards are scattered along the balcony rim. Large ad billboards are displayed on the wall above the
uppermost seats.

Concourses
The concourses are decent and wide for the most part yet could use some color. The 100 level concourse
has a view of the playing field, and an "outer concourse" includes a system of ramps and escalators to move
fans from level to level.

Concessions
A lot of effort has been made here to upgrade concession offerings. Food items here consist of the usual
football fanfare and being in Atlanta Coca-Cola is the beverage of choice. One specialty stand offers Cuban
sandwiches and a meat concoction called "Mojo Sandwiches", and Barbecue sandwich stands are located
everywhere. There is no main "team store" here, but plenty of small souvenir stands to get that Falcons
merchandise you are just craving for!!!

Premium seating
The idea of club seats came after this building opened, but here on the 200 level is a carpeted private
concourse, with "executive lounges" at the north and south ends of the building, and also a restaurant called
"In Zone" overlooking the east end zone and serving a buffet, dessert cart and themed menus. Two levels of
suites ring the 200 level of the building, and there is also a "penthouse" part suite located on the 50 yard line
at the very top of the seating bowl.

Banners/Retired numbers
The Falcons have had a mediocre existence since joining the NFL as an expansion team in 1966 as there
are only two banners to celebrate here. One commemorating the 1980 NFC West Champions and the other
to celebrate the 1998 NFC Champions. Their crowning moment was one trip to the Super Bowl, which they
lost. A more recent addition is  a "Ring of Honor", essentially banners of retired numbers which hang in each
corner of the seating bowl way on high. The four honorees include #60 Tommy Nobis, #58 Jessie Tuggle,
#31 William Andrews and #10 Steve Bartkowski.

Touchdowns, extra points, fumbles...

Extra point... On our first visit, the Falcons and Saints headed into this game far removed from post season
contention. However, there was  quite a decent crowd on hand for this one. Considering that football is king
in the South and that the Falcons and Saints are the two oldest franchises in the region, these two teams
have one of the most underrated rivalries in the NFL and the building had about 25% Saints fans in
attendance. The Falcons pummeled the Saints 35-13 that day making Atlanta teams 3 for 3 during our stay.
On our return visit, it was the Michael Vick show as the streaking Falcons were all over the visiting Tampa
Bay Bucs by a 24-14 score.

Extra point... We checked out the "SEC Experience" going on next door in the Convention Center. Andrew and
Peter both tried their proficiency at kicking field goals. Needless to say, the NFL place kickers community can
sleep soundly!

Touchdown...down on the ground floor is a great museum area called "Historic Halls of the Dome"
highlighting the great college moments in this building in a series of exhibits. But...

Fumble... it is the building's best kept secret. We never knew it was there until after we got back home.

Fumble... not one but TWO travel disasters for the USRT on our second visit here. We praised MARTA as a
good way to go to the game, but when we rode the train back to our park n ride lot after the game, our train
broke down, and a packed car of people had to wait for a new train. Then that train had mechanical
difficulties, compounding our delay again. We get to the airport, and our &^$*(^%# Airtran flight is delayed,
although most other flights were OK on a clear day. We finally got out of there around 11 pm for a flight that
was scheduled to depart at 7:15. Aaaargghhh!

Summary
What is cool about the Georgia Dome is its great location, right near the center of a very hopping downtown
Atlanta. Plenty of things to do before and after the game, and a fairly decent tailgate scene. The building is
architecturally stunning, and pretty modern for a venue which is going on 15 years. Best of all, the positive
turnaround in the team's fortunes has revived full and energetic crowds in this place. Overall a pretty decent
NFL experience, and a great city to come visit again and again.

SCORING:
Architecture: 8
Food and team store 6
Scoreboard and electronics 5
Ushers 7
Fan support 5
Location and neighborhood 8
Banners and history 6
In game entertainment 4
Concourses/fan comfort 6
Bonus: Tailgate scene 1.5,  MARTA 1, Coca Cola Plaza 1
Total 58.5
Georgia Dome
#18


Georgia
Dome   


Atlanta,
Georgia   



December
5, 1999




New
Orleans
Saints at
Atlanta
Falcons



return
visit



November
14,
2004



Tampa
Bay
Buccaneers
at
Atlanta
Falcons




HELPFUL
LINKS


Atlanta
Falcons



Georgia
Dome



MARTA




Peach Bowl



Centennial
Park