Showing 1 - 7 of 7 posts found matching keyword: georgia dome

The Miami Dolphins came to Atlanta for their first visit to Georgia Dome 2.0 Mercedes Benz Stadium, and I went to see them with my friends, Falcons fans Keith and Ken (and their lovely wives).

Dolphins 20, Falcons 17

In the first half, the Dolphins played like the Dolphins, stumbling into a 0-17 hole. Jay Cutler was the worst he's been all season, playing without inspiration or conviction, placing balls where they would do the least good for the receivers. Just horrible.

However, in the second half, the Falcons played like the Falcons, committing penalties, throwing interceptions, failing to tackle, and just refusing to finish a game. The Falcons scored 0 second half points. The Dolphins scored 20.

Final score, 20-17, Dolphins! Whoo-hoo! Thank you, Falcons!

I would be remiss if I didn't mention my first impression of the new stadium. All I've heard is how wonderful it is. Don't believe the hype.

  • The much ballyhooed 360° HD halo screen is worthless for half of the stadium. Those on the ground floor have to stare at the ceiling to see anything. Those in the rafters (like me) can't see half the screen because the near edge obscures the top half of the far side screen. (Given that they can't even make the roof open — not that you'd be able to tell from most of the seats — I assume that it would have been too hard to pitch the screens into a cone so that they would be visible to all?)
  • Stadium concourses are given over almost exclusively to concessions with queue lines cutting into walkways, making it impossible to get around without running through crowds standing in line for beer and $2 hot dogs.
  • And if you want a $2 hot dog, get one early. Lines don't move quickly. I didn't go myself, but watching and listening to those around me, the minimum wait time appeared to be 15 minutes. (And if you want a Coke, your only option is to stand in line for a fill-it-yourself fountain cup which entitles you to stand in line by the "free refills" drink fountains. That's two lines for the price of one!)
  • Speaking of 15 minutes, that was the wait time for restroom breaks — to the men's room!

In short, I didn't see that this stadium was an improvement in any way over the Georgia Dome save the welcome presence of natural light, and I got the impression that I must not be alone. From the very beginning of the game, there were huge blocks of empty seats visible all over the stadium. (I'd guess it was half full.) Given the stadium's evident disdain for people who actually want to watch a game of football, I can't blame those ticket holders for wanting to spend their time doing something other than watch football there.

But enough about that. I went to the building not to pass judgement on it, but to watch a football game with friends. In the end, I think a good time was had by all.*

To be clear, this picture was taken in the first quarter. My smile came out later.

*At least, all of us cheering for the Dolphins.

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Ten years ago, tickets to the season-opening Monday Night Football game between the Philadelphia Eagles vs the Atlanta Falcons, went on sale in the wee hours of the morning on TicketMaster.com. My brother, an avid Eagles fan, wanted tickets desperately, so despite being awake for nearly 24 hours, I sat at my computer and tried to get him some.

For hours, I tried. TicketMaster has never been very good at anything, and that morning they were particularly bad. Time out after time out — until finally! The tickets it offered me were expensive, $150 seats, but they would be worth it. Only after I put in my credit card info and committed to buy did I realize that the tickets TicketMaster had offered weren't to the Monday Night Falcons/Eagles. Somehow, in my sleep-deprived state, I had purchased tickets to the preseason Falcons/Ravens game instead.

Of course TicketMaster refused to offer a refund. And by then, they insisted they were sold out of Eagles tickets. So I was stuck with tickets to a watching a team I don't like in seats I couldn't afford at a glorified practice scrimmage. Fan-fucking-tastic.

I tried selling my Ravens tickets on eBay at a loss, but there were no takers. I ended up giving them away to a friend who didn't even go.

Fast forward a decade, and the Eagles were back in town for a Monday Night Football season opener. I had't planned on attending, but while watching games on Sunday, I figured what the hell. I went online to StubHub.com — I never buy anything on TicketMaster anymore — and bought two tickets for $50 each. Since my brother no longer speaks to me, I gave a ticket to friend Brian. We met at the Georgia Dome and had a great time.

Eagles 24, Falcons 26

Philadelphia Eagles 24, Atlanta Falcons 26. I'm really going to miss the Georgia Dome when they tear it down next year.

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I woke up on Friday to a voicemail message asking if I wanted to attend the Dolphins/Falcons preseason opener that night. I had turned down the opportunity when Mom asked months ago, but in the pressure of the moment, I gave in and accepted fate.

This was all I saw of Stephen Jackson

The tickets had come to friend Brian through connections at his job, and he says he had a hard time finding someone to accompany him at the last minute. ("I said to myself, 'I'll call Walter. He'd never pass up football tickets!'," Brian explained.) Judging by the thousands of empty seats at the Georgia Dome, most people passed on the opportunity to pay $59.00 to watch a glorified practice.

The last time I attended a preseason game, it was to see Dan Marino take about 5 snaps. Not quite a decade back, I tried to get Eagles/Falcons Monday Night tickets, and ended up buying four Ravens/Falcons preseason tickets. (I blame that snafu partly on TicketMaster and partly on sleep deprivation.) I couldn't give those tickets away! The way I see it, going to this game for free is cosmic compensation for that wasted $300 all those years ago.

Preseason games in Atlanta draw about as many fans as reals game in Miami

I got my money's worth as the first-team Dolphins and first-team Falcons looked great last night on their opening drives. That wasn't too surprising. Offsenses always perform better than defenses at the beginning of the year. I considered it a better sign that the Dolphins' rebuilt O-line was able to protect Tannehill for a few plays. (The Dolphins didn't start giving up sacks until late in the game.) Maybe we'll be able to score some points this year.

Others were even more optimistic. "I think we could win the AFC East this year," said the Dolphins' fan behind me. "It's either us or the Bills." Given that the Bills haven't made finished better than .500 since 2004, I'd say those are pretty good odds. I wonder what the Patriots — division winner for nine of the last ten seasons — will have to say about that?

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In the past eight days, I've been to four football games, 1 high school, 2 college, and 1 professional. I sure do enjoy football season. If nothing else, it gets me out of the house.

I accompanied Trey to the Atlanta Falcons' prime-time home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday in a game that ended just before midnight. It was a fantastic game featuring a bunch of turnovers, big plays, and lead changes, and I'm quite pleased that I had the opportunity to go.

Philadelphia 31, Atlanta 35

It was unclear who was better represented among the fan-worn jerseys in the stadium: current Falcons QB Matt Ryan or former Falcons QB Michael Vick. Ryan outplayed Vick in the game, if for no other reason than Vick's 3 turnovers. Vick didn't even finish the game, suffering a concussion late in the 3rd quarter and being booed off the field by the ever-classy Altanta fans.

It would have only been better if the Dolphins hadn't lost their game earlier in the day, making it look increasingly like another terrible season is in the making. True story: waiting to use a urinal at the Georgia Dome, I was the only person wearing a Miami Dolphins t-shirt in a long line of people clad in Eagles and Falcons apparel. Finally, I reached the front of the line and prepared to relieve myself. Immediately the fellow behind me loudly sighed and said, "we're going to be here awhile. The guy in up here is wearing a Dolphins shirt, and we all know they're slow starters." Smart ass.

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Apparently, GSU fans are all Weyland-Yutani androids.

The only bleeding done last night at the inaugural Georgia State University football game was by Shorter in a very lopsided 41-7 affair. What college, no matter how small, gets beaten by a commuter school team playing it's first game ever? I've seen high school football teams play better ball than the Shorter Hawks. In the past week!

The first play from scrimmage in GSU history was negated by a penalty, but the Panthers manged to end the drive with the first touchdown in school -- thanks largely to some major penalties committed by Shorter (including illegal participation and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties). Sure Shorter may be able to gripe about Georgia State running up the score a little bit, including scoring a touchdown with 8 seconds remaining in the game. But I'm not sure that you can hold that against the young GSU squad wanting to make a big splash in their first game.

Thirty-thousand people, and none of them know what to do during a TV timeout.

This was the first trip to the Georgia Dome for my mother, a GSU alumnus. Judging by how clearly inexperienced the crowd of 30,327 was, I'd say that there were a lot of first-timers present. No one seemed to know when to cheer (the rowdy crowd caused the GSU Panthers at least 1 false start penalty) or boo (the crowd was especially unruly after Shorter's only touchdown and appeared to be booing the GSU defense). One student sitting behind me nearly went hoarse trying to explain to his neighbors the finer points of football, such as the theory behind Shorter's option offense, what exactly a fair catch was, and how teams change sides between quarters.

However, if the crowd was clueless, they were geniuses compared to the operations crew. I know that GSU has never had a football team before. And no doubt they were intimidated by the Georgia Dome facilities. But the entire affair seemed to be run by someone whose experience with college football was from a pop-up book he checked out of the library.

The school had a marching band that included electric guitar players, but only played songs that were popular prior to the birth of any of its musicians. There were fireworks for player introductions, but only two cones of intermittent sparklers being watched by two students with fire hydrants. They prepared some nifty videos and graphics to play on the "Panter-Vision" during key situations, but had no concept of timing and didn't even remember to warn us to drink responsibly until a quarter after the taps had closed. Key advertising partners had been selected for between-quarters entertainment and highlight replays, but no one seemed to think that it was a bad idea to allow a seafood restaurant to sponsor the "Six Feet Under Fan Cam." And the PA system was much, much too loud.

Gimme a G-S-U!

The highlight of the evening was a second-quarter video of a player who tried leading the crowd in a cheer. After the first pass at the cheer resulting in only half-hearted and murmured participation, in typical cheer-leading fashion, our video-taped ringleader encouraged the crowd to try again:

VIDEO-TAPED PLAYER: I can't hear you! 'G-S'...

CROWD (loudly): 'U'!

VIDEO: 'G-S'...

CROWD (louder): 'U'!

VIDEO: 'G-A'...

CROWD (screaming): 'U'!

In the moment of near total confused silence that followed, I looked at my mother and asked, "what the hell is a 'gau'?" My bemused mother replied, "I think they were supposed to say, 'state'." No one tried to lead the crowd in any cheers for the rest of the game.

Seriously, don't come on the field. All 13 of you. Stop, or we'll call your mothers to come pick you up.

Despite the many, many snafus, I think in the end a good time was had by all. Except maybe Shorter.

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The Atlanta Falcons played like dogs this Sunday, so it was fitting that Michael Vick returned to town to put them out of their misery.

First quarter: Philadelphia 10, Atlanta 0

Michael Vick had predicted that he would receive a standing ovation on his first return home to the Georgia Dome following his eviction due to federal conviction as a canine killer. He pretty much got what he expected. Never have I attended a sporting event that was quite so much a love letter to a single person, an event where a player was indeed bigger than the game, but that was what happened. Very few, it seemed, came for the game. (This was a good thing, as there wasn't one played, at least not by the Falcons.) Everyone was there for number 7. And to his credit as an athlete and entertainer, he gave us what we came to see. Most Falcons fans had justifiably fled by late in the third quarter, leaving only Eagles and Vick fans, whose chants of "Put in Vick" were answered as Vick drove the Eagles down the field for another touchdown. Then everyone went home.

Fourth quarter: Philadelphia 34, Atlanta 0

I'd be lying if I said that I didn't take some vengeful enjoyment in watching the prodigal Vick return to Atlanta with the Eagles and pull the wings off the injured Falcons, 34-7. (Atlanta's lone touchdown couldn't have been less relevant, scored as time expired in the game against a third-string Eagles defense.) I figure the Falcons deserved the punishment it after the ingracious way that they treated the Dolphins in the season opener. So I ask, Falcons, how did you like them apples, because I thought they tasted pretty sweet.

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This post is a little late, but I've had a busy weekend. Saturday night I attended the first University of Georgia football home game vs South Carolina. I was excited because I love night games, and the game had a 7PM kickoff. If I had known before hand that the game was going to take over 4 hours to play, I'm sure that would have dampened my enthusiasm somewhat.

UGA 41, South Carolina 37

Two things slow down a football game: scoring and penalties. And this game had both in spades. Thirty one points were scored in the first quarter alone. There were 24 penalties called in the game, 11 for us and 13 for them, for a total of 206 yards. Six of those penalties resulted directly in first downs. But we won, so I'd be a fool to complain. Besides, the game had just about everything else you could ask for: special teams touchdowns, long runs, long passes, blocked kicks, goal line stands, shouting matches between the coaches, last second drama. It was a good game.

I would not call Sunday's match up between the Miami Dolphins and the Atlanta Falcons a "good game." The Dolphins flat out stunk. Sure, this was the first game of the season for both teams. The Georgia Dome, even when not full to capacity, can be a pretty hostile environment to opposing teams ("loud" is an understatement). But that's no excuse for four (4!) Dolphins turnovers and an anemic... well, everything. Just two years ago I watched an entire season in which the Dolphins won only 1 football game, and even then they couldn't even aspire to this level of ineptitude. I have a name for this level of failure: Pennington.

Miami 7, Atlanta 19

If you've been paying attention, you'll know that I've railed against Chad Pennington before. (On August 11, 2008, and January 4, 2009, to be exact.) While I have grown to admire his never-say-retire-while-they're-still-throwing-money-at-me attitude, his weak arm and failing body have hurt us in the past just as they cost the Dolphins any chance at winning today.

Watching the team warm ups, I noticed that Pennington's longest warm-up pass was exactly 15 yards. Pennington's longest pass of the day was almost exactly 20 yards in the air. My brother was quick to point out that on that pass, Pennington took three big steps forward before heaving the pass, and the ball still wobbled like a lame duck. The Falcons must also have been paying attention, as they didn't bother to cover any Dolphins deep, knowing that the ball would never go that far. As if that wasn't bad enough, every time Pennington dropped back to pass, the Dolphins receivers themselves generally aborted their routes to ensure that Pennington's passes could still reach them despite the fact that this prevented almost any chance of catching the ball past (or in most cases near) the first down marker. Thanks, Chad.

On the upside, on rookie Pat White's first play in a regular season NFL game, he heaved the ball an impressive 40 yards, overthrowing the fastest Dolphin receiver deep down the field. My brother went berserk, amazed that Pennington could launch the ball so far. He was heartbroken when I explained that Pennington had been replaced for that down with another quarterback. Though come to think of it, he may have just been upset that the coaches immediately put Pennington back in and never let White throw again during the game. In any case, at least it's good to know that there's someone on the team who can throw the ball, even if the coaches are determined to keep him off the field.

Tickets, anyone?

I should mention that these football games were the second and third sporting events that I attended this week. I also watched the Gwinnett Braves (AAA affiliate of the MLB Atlanta Braves) lose a playoff game 0-3 on Wednesday night. The Braves would go on to lose the series, and after watching them play in person, I'm not surprised.

The picture below gives a pretty accurate indication of the turnout for the game against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barr (Pennsylvania) Yankees (AAA affiliate of the MLB New York Yankees). There were just enough people in attendance that team mascot Chopper the Groundhog was able to annoy everyone in attendance personally, one at a time.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barr Yankees 3, Gwinnett Braves 0

Why a team named the Braves would have a groundhog for a mascot is explained only once you realize that the main thing that Gwinnett County has of any name recognition is a number of large shopping malls, and they make lousy mascots. General Beauregard Lee, the groundhog at Gwinnett's Yellow River Game Ranch is the state of Georgia's "Official" predictor of spring arrival. We don't care for Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil in these parts, especially if we're going to get beaten by Phil's state baseball clubs.

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To be continued...

 

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