You see the smoke, you hear the drums and chants of A-T-L. And you're getting serious FOMO but don't know where to start? We've all been there, so here are a few dos and don'ts to help make your Atlanta United match day the best day possible.
Be sure to head into Mercedes-Benz Stadium early to check out this incredible atmosphere from the art to the halo screen.
ATLANTA UNITED PRE-GAME TIPS
Download the Mercedes-Benz Stadium app before you leave home. You'll need this app as it will likely be the way you access your Atlanta United game ticket. The app also has a lot of great information to help you navigate Mercedes- Benz Stadium, such as a map of food and beverage options.
Leave your cash at home. Mercedes-Benz is a completely cashless stadium so only your credit cards or Apple forms of payment are accepted. Only like to deal in cash? No worries. There are reverse ATMs around the stadium that'll give you a temporary debit card.
Grab some Atlanta United FC gear before the game. There are plenty of places to grab an Atlanta United T-shirt, jersey, scarf or hat online and around town. "Kitting up" is all part of the fun. The stadium will have plenty of options should you decide to partake last minute.
A good time is had by all at an Atlanta United game.
WHERE TO PARK AND TAILGATE FOR ATLANTA UNITED GAMES
Take MARTA. Parking spots and ride-sharing services for games can be pricey, and finding either can be chaotic. To limit these headaches, MARTA is the best for match days, unless you have a friend who has a reserved spot in "The Gulch." More on that later. The two closest MARTA stations to the stadium are Mercedes-Benz/GWCC/StateFarmArena MARTA or Vine City MARTA. You should easily see the stadium from either station once you are above ground.
Pro tips: Avoid the crowds and have a drink or food somewhere in the stadium after the game to let the crowds thin out. The Vine City stop is generally less crowded.
Atlanta United FC, the nation's youngest soccer club, became the city's most celebrated team in just a couple years while simultaneously gaining the largest fan base in Major League Soccer. Check out Atlanta United supporter groups like Footie Mob and Terminus Legion as they celebrate their team and ATL.
Experience pre-game tailgating at "The Gulch." This is the prime tailgate spot for anyone going to the game. Even if you don't have a tailgate invitation, take some extra time before the game to walk around and take in the unique tailgate experience like no other in soccer. Ask anyone wearing the Five Stripes where to go, but it'll be easy to hear the music and chants once you get above ground. Tailgates usually are set up three to four hours before the game so get there early if you do decide to tailgate.
Check out Atlanta United supporter groups. These clubs, made up of die-hard fans, are always a great way to help you appreciate the game. Clubs are always looking for new members and are a great way to find new friends who love soccer. The official groups are Terminus Legion, Resurgence, Faction and Footie Mob. Don't forget to watch these super fans head into the stadium. It is a sight to see.
Snap some selfies before the game. There are some classic selfie spots in and around the stadium. There is a large falcon in front of the main entrance that sports a large Atlanta United scarf on match days. Just on the other side of the stadium by the Home Depot Backyard is a majestic metallic soccer ball sculpture that makes for some great poses. There also is amazing art inside the stadium that is just waiting for its closeup so take a lap around the stadium before the game.
Pro tip: If you're going to spend a while in The Gulch, bring water, sunglasses and your walking shoes. You'll thank me later.
You'll find so many wonderful traditions at an Atlanta United match.
GAME TIME AT MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM
Get the best seats for the Atlanta United game. The Atlanta United fan section is located directly behind the home goal. The first several rows tend to be a bit rowdier so if you prefer to sit and watch the game, your best bet is to find a seat that is closer to the top or even on the sides of the section. For a real VIP treat, and some of the best seats at the Atlanta United game, the stadium offers premium seating with great views, club and lounge access and plenty more.
Discover Atlanta United traditions. Look to the supporter's section behind the home goal to find a cool homage to Atlanta, the Golden Spike. This Atlanta United tradition happens just before every game. A guest of honor "nails in" the golden spike (which has been brought in and signed by supporter clubs). This nod to Atlanta's railroad past definitely gets the crowd amped. Previous spikers have been famous celebrities and local heroes. You never know what icon may be in the spotlight the day you go.
Cheer on the home team. It goes without saying, but join in the cheers for Atlanta's soccer team. Participate in a chant or two and listen for the train horn whenever the Five Stripes score, then revel with your fellow United fans. Be on the lookout for the TIFO. Supporters frequently go all out and create huge murals (they're called TIFOs) to display in their section. The TIFO is proudly displayed and cheered as a one-of-a-kind piece. No two TIFOs are alike so this is a one-time experience. TIFOs range from funny to serious in nature and are always works of art.
Grab a beer and some grub. If you are going to be eating during the Atlanta United game, it's best to get your food around the 30-minute point when the lines are usually the shortest and before the halftime crowds start eating. Some of our favorite spots to eat at Mercede- Benz Stadium are Fox Bros BBQ, Kevin Gillespie's Gamechanger, Farmburger and Delias chicken sausage stand. All these stands have delicious match-day fare with an Atlanta flair.
Fun fact: Kevin Gillespie's Gamechanger even has special items, depending on the day's opponent. So when Atlanta United is playing Philadelphia Union, you might get to order our take on a Philly cheesesteak. Looking for some value eats? Check out any of the classic stadium food stands for $5 craft beer and $2 hot dogs. All are a pretty good deal.
Pro tip: Avoid grabbing food and drinks on your way to the stadium or during halftime, unless you really love crowds.
The fun doesn't have to stop at the stadium; take in some of the sights of Downtown Atlanta while you are here.
ATLANTA UNITED POST-GAME FUN
Chill for a bit at the stadium. Avoid the mad dash to the MARTA station and the slow trudge out of the stadium. Find one of the food spots mentioned above or one of the sit-down bars around the stadium and continue the party. You can also check out some amazing art all around the stadium. You'll extend the fun just a little longer and have a much more relaxed trip home.
Explore some of the sights in Downtown Atlanta. You're already in Downtown Atlanta so you might as well make it worth it. Go for a spin on the SkyView Atlanta Ferris wheel. Take a selfie in front of the Olympic Rings at Centennial Olympic Park. Or explore one of the many bars and restaurants near Mercedes-Benz Stadium that are just a quick walk away.
Find out when the next Atlanta United home game is scheduled. Atlanta United games are like potato chips. You can't have just one, so once you are safe and sound at home, go ahead and purchase tickets for your next match.
The blend of the global influence on soccer culture mixed with a Southern flair defines a match day in the ATL. It is something you don't want to miss so grab your red, black and gold, and chant A-T-L.
Courtney Bigum is a marketing professional and Atlanta local always looking for new and exciting ways to explore the city. There is never a weekend an adventure doesn't find her.
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