Fall in Atlanta means crisp, cool air alongside a hefty sports lineup filled to the brim with baseball, basketball, football and more. Here are just some of the many must-see happenings taking place across the city in September and October.
CHOP TILL YOU DROP
The inaugural season for the Atlanta Braves is drawing to a close at the new SunTrust Park, with the final home game of the regular season set for Sept. 24 versus the Philadelphia Phillies. But before saying goodbye, be sure to partake in the Summer Bash at SunTrust Park Sept. 4 — a special ticket package offering fans a Braves bucket hat and plenty of fun in the sun on the Xfinity Rooftop. Other exciting giveaways, theme nights, ticket packages and more leading up to season-ending play include fireworks after every Friday home game; a jersey koozie gate giveaway Sept. 8; Choptoberfest Sept. 9; a “Property of the Braves” T-shirt giveaway Sept. 15; and a post-game concert by Fitz and The Tantrums Sept. 23. Die-hard baseball fans also will want to be sure and book the team’s VIP Experience -- from $100 to $450 -- to create memories that will last a lifetime.
MAKING A MOVE
Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United continues its inaugural season, moving from Bobby Dodd Stadium to its new home at Mercedes-Benz Stadium starting with the Sept. 10 game against FC Dallas. That game is the first of a six-match home stand that concludes Sept. 27 against Philadelphia. Plan on plenty of action, with a loaded roster that includes goalkeeper Brad Guzan (a regular with the U.S. Men’s National Team) and a trio of 2017 MLS All-Stars (Miguel Almirón, Greg Garza and captain Michael Parkhurst). Also expect the successful expansion team to entertain with its fast and attractive style of play and one of the team’s best attacks heading toward the playoffs. The Five Stripes are going for the crown Sept. 16 versus Orlando City SC.
HOOPING IT UP
The Atlanta Hawks are set to tip off the 2017-18 NBA preseason at Philips Arena in early October under fifth-year head coach Mike Budenholzer. Although the schedule had not yet been released at press time, fans can look forward to a “new-look roster” featuring last year’s breakout star Dennis Schröder, along with other young core players such as Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince and 2017 first-round draft pick John Collins.
Thinking about attending a pro football game on your next visit to the city? The Atlanta Falcons open their highly anticipated regular season at home at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a nationally televised matchup Sept. 17 at 8:30 p.m. against the Green Bay Packers. This should be another outstanding year for the team, which is coming off a trip to the Super Bowl and entering into the season with cornerback Desmond Trufant returning from injury alongside veteran running back Devonta Freeman and outside linebacker Vic Beasley Jr., as well as hot new players like defensive tackle Dontari Poe.
Prepare to have a ball Sept. 18 -- 24 when the TOUR Championship returns to historic East Lake Golf Club -- the home course of the legendary Bobby Jones. Following 33 weeks of the regular season and three playoff events, the top 30 players on the PGA TOUR battle it out at this highly anticipated annual event to see who will emerge as tournament champ as well as the winner of the 2017 FedExCup. The 2016 TOUR Championship was a rousing success, with Rory McIlroy capturing both the tournament and the FedExCup.
THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP IS COMING!
The biggest game in college football is headed to Atlanta in 2018. The College Football Playoff National Championship is an upcoming bowl game that will determine the national champion of college football in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision for the 2017 season. It will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Jan. 8 as the culminating game of the 2017-18 football season, complete with plenty of ancillary activities for fans leading up to the National Championship game. Think Playoff Fan Central -- a 300,000-square-foot interactive experience featuring games, clinics, pep rallies, band performances, special guest appearances, autograph signings and exhibits celebrating college football and its history -- along with a free outdoor concert series, extreme tailgating and events benefiting the College Football Playoff Foundation’s primary initiative, Extra Yard for Teachers. Want to get involved now? Be sure to sign up for the Atlanta Football Host Committee’s e-newsletter to be the first to know about upcoming volunteer opportunities (www.atlchampgame.com/volunteer).
A GUIDE TO THE NEW MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM
The new Mercedes-Benz Stadium was designed to deliver the ultimate game-day experience for fans. From the game itself -- featuring a Hollywood-worthy theatrical presentation including more than 82,500 square feet of LED video displays and a 360-degree Halo board coming in at five stories tall, 1,100 feet wide and featuring 38 million LED lights -- to a fan-first approach to all food and beverage pricing, including $2 hot dogs and popcorn, $3 pizza slices and nachos, and $5 beer. But that’s not all … here are other happenings fans can expect to encounter at the new stadium:
- A two-story Team Store, open most days of the year, featuring Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United gear
- The new Home Depot Backyard, adjacent to the stadium, offering a grass lot option for game-day tailgating
- AmFam Village, a lively open space for all fans to gather pre-game and enjoy food, beverages and entertainment
- The Front Porch, at the stadium’s main entrance, with more than 100,000 square feet of gathering space for all fans with tickets to the game to enjoy pre- and post-event live entertainment, food and beverages
- An art collection showcasing 180-plus large-scale works from more than 50 artists from the Savannah College of Art & Design
- Unforgettable self-guided tour experiences exploring the stadium’s art and technology
Wendy Bowman writes for Atlanta Now magazine.