I have been watching baseball and football since I was a child but sometimes going to the games was not always possible. This is particularly true for NFL games. I am happy that a hot dog at Mercedes Benz Stadium costs $2 or something like that but it doesn’t matter if I can’t afford the admission ticket so I can buy that hot dog.
But I forgive the Atlanta Falcons and the NFL because they have created a great fan experience that costs nothing. You can go and watch your favorite team practice and often the players will sign autographs. How cool is that?
My husband and I got up at 5:30 on a Saturday morning to watch the Atlanta Falcons play at their training facility in Flowery Branch, Ga. It was our first time so I am going to give you some information that may help you.
- Get their early if you can. Practices begin around 9:30 a.m. but the gates open at 8:20 a.m. You want to be there early to snag one of the parking places across the street, which are the closest ones.
- If you don’t get their early, don’t worry. We found a parking lot a short distance away (you can follow the signs). An air-conditioned shuttle bus will drop you off at the gate to the facility. How easy (and cool on a hot summer morning).
- You cannot bring alcoholic beverages or big coolers but you can bring a small cooler or drinks. There is security and your bags will be searched.
- And you don’t have to worry about paying $4 for a bottle of water. You can purchase food and drink tickets and all items cost $1! I can’t even buy a bottle of water for $1 at Walmart.
- You can bring a lawn chair and sit on the hill or you can sit on some shaded bleachers at the top of the hill. Thank you for the shade, Falcons!
- You can take pictures but you cannot videotape. I wouldn’t bring a professional camera because there are some rules. Just use your cell phone and you will get some great shots.
- They have so many vendors and cool things set up outside the practice facility. You can have your picture taken with a cardboard cutout of Julio Jones and fool your friends into thinking you met the superstar. I was able to snag Freddy the Falcon for a picture and you can get autographs from the Falcons Cheerleaders.
- Open practices usually last about two hours. After that, some of the players will sign autographs for a few minutes. Be patient and don’t be disappointed if you don’t get one. They are getting ready for another season
We mingled and met some cool people. I enjoyed talking to one of the young men who did security for the training camp. Everyone at the camp from the Falcons personnel to security to the fans we met was so nice. The team has a few more open practices and if you are a fan, it’s worth the drive!
Directions: The facility is just off 1-985, exit 24. If you are coming from the south, turn right onto Phil Niekro Boulevard then take a left on Hog Mountain Road. Drive a short distance and you will see 4400 Falcons Parkway on the left. Of course, if you are coming from the north, take a left onto Phil Niekro Boulevard.
Speaking of Phil Niekro, you don’t want to miss the Atlanta Braves!
Following the Braves is like riding a roller coaster. They can lose three in a row then come back and beat the Dodgers in a one-hitter. You don’t want to miss a game because you never know when you may see something that will make history. And as the 2018 season winds down, the team is celebrating Chipper Jones induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
You can see the game at a reasonable price and not need binoculars to watch the action. The MLB has a great deal on Mondays. You can upgrade your seats for just $1 each on their app. You can buy a terrible seat in the nosebleeds for less than $10 and upgrade to something on the field or terrace level. The offer is not available on Labor Day, which is a shame because they are playing the Boston Red Sox. But we will be there the next day!
Also, watch the Braves website for special deals. We snagged seats on the Home Run Porch for $10 to see them take on the Toronto Blue Jays. StubHub sometimes has good prices but when the team is doing well, the prices are usually higher than the ones you buy from the team. The three days after Chipper’s HOF induction the team is featuring $15 outfield seats that include a collectible poster. And they are playing the Marlins so there is a high probability of a win.
Hot tip: Buy the parking pass! The closest lot is the Red lot and it is just $3 more than the next closest lot. You get off the parking deck elevator, walk a short distance through the Battery and you are at the gate.
Directions: The stadium is easily accessible for I-285, I-75 at the Windy Hill exit or U.S. 41. The stadium is located off of Cobb Parkway near Cumberland Mall. I can explain it but you should probably map it out from your area. We come from the north and we can take I-75 South but we enjoy the drive down U.S. 41. We just take a left turn into the stadium and we are there.
FYI, we have seen Braves play in Kansas City and Cincinnati. We were able to score cheap tickets using StubHub but the Cincinnati Reds were not playing well then. We loved the Great American Ballpark. And I got close to Dansby Swanson! Our tickets in Kansas City were courtesy of my sister. Kaufman Stadium is fun, too.
Let me know your tips for seeing your favorite teams. BTW, I am very interested in seeing an Atlanta United game! And the Atlanta Hawks will be back in action soon. Drop me a line.