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Official Review by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Atlanta has a long history of professional soccer, going back to the 1960’s and the Atlanta Chiefs. The current incarnation of soccer is the Atlanta Silverbacks men’s North American Soccer League team and the Atlanta Silverbacks women’s semi-professional team. Both teams utilize Atlanta Silverbacks Park as their home field. Silverbacks Park is a 5,000-seat stadium located in Atlanta’s northern suburbs. It features a FieldTurf surface. The stadium is part of a bigger soccer complex, featuring four full-sized soccer fields which service Atlanta’s very active amateur and youth soccer leagues. The stadium opened in 2006.
A Silverback is a breed of gorilla and was chosen as the team’s name in honor of Willie B, a much-loved gorilla who lived for more than 50 years at Zoo Atlanta. Any Atlanta native has fond memories of Willie B. and his antics, such as watching his own TV and siring future generations of Willie Bs.
Unfortunately, like the gorilla, the Silverbacks may be on the endangered species list, as Atlanta recently was awarded a Major League Soccer franchise, which will begin play in 2017 at the Atlanta Falcons' retractable-roof stadium presently under construction in downtown Atlanta. For now, the team is on solid ground, as it has a very loyal fan base.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are two ways to go on wining and dining at Silverbacks Park. The more expensive of the two is to purchase seating at $100, which entitles you to unlimited food and beverage in the VIP tent adjacent to the stadium. In addition to the food and beverage, you are treated to big-screen viewing of the game and a preferred parking space immediately outside the stadium. For those looking for a more family-friendly budget, there is the Extra Time Bar and Grille just off the field of play, which offers hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwiches at an average cost of $6.00. Also scattered around the stadium are specific stands for ice cream, beer, etc. A nice touch is having picnic tables near the food outlets, so you do not have to balance them on your lap in your seat.
The setting for Silverbacks Park is rather bizarre. It is located beneath the largest cloverleaf interchange in the metro Atlanta area (known by locals as Spaghetti Junction for obvious reasons, if you ever see an aerial shot of it). So as you watch the game, thousands of cars and trucks are soaring 100 feet above you. That being said, the atmosphere inside the park is one big party. Atlanta has a sizable international population, and Silverback Park is social central, as this type of futbol is "America's game" for a majority of those in attendance. The game may be a rout either for or against the home team, but everyone has a good time. During the intermission, several crowd participation contests are held on the playing field.
Silverbacks Park is located in an industrial area just off the I-85/I-285 interchange. It is a safe area, but do not expect to find restaurants, hotels, shops or gas stations within walking distance of the park.
Silverback fans have to be the most passionate fans in the metro area. They are rowdy, but not in a dangerous, law-breaking way. They stand for the whole game, sing team anthems and are dressed from head to toe in the team colors. Two major booster groups, the Guerillas and the Ultras, delight in outshouting each other and showing who has the most spirit. The team does major outreach to area youth leagues, so expect lots of kids when you go.
Silverbacks Park is located at one the busiest interstate interchanges in the metro area. That being said, there is one road leading in and out of the complex and parking is on adjacent soccer fields (no marked parking spaces). Friendly attendants are present to help you in parking in a somewhat orderly fashion, but are nowhere to be found at the end of the game, resulting in gridlock. If the game's outcome is not in doubt, I suggest you depart with a few minutes left in the game. The Doraville MARTA train station is located nearby, for those who want to avoid car chaos.
The Silverbacks offer a good value for those on a budget. A $15-$20 ticket can get you a seat right at field level on the sideline. Tickets are also broken down price wise by children versus adults, which is a nice touch. Group tickets offer additional discounts and many area churches, youth groups and watering holes seem to take the team up on these discounts. Compared to other major league teams in the area, food costs are reasonable and parking is only $5.00. Those who want to be pampered always have the $100 VIP package, which provides you with everything you could possibly want.
A few observations on what makes watching a game at Silverbacks Park special: 1) The antics of Socrates, the team's hilarious mascot. 2) An elevated walkway at one end of the stadium is directly over the goal, giving a very unique vantage point to the action on the field. 3) The opportunity to learn about other cultures in the very International City of Atlanta.
Member Review by jmccurdy on Jul 08, 2012
The history of pro soccer in Atlanta is a bit muddled, but for any of you who doubt its continued existence, I’m here to let you know that it is alive and well. Founded in 1995 as members of the Division-2 A-League, the Atlanta Silverbacks have weathered many a storm to keep playing today.
Bouncing between leagues and stadiums for years, the club (and its many auxiliaries – which includes practice squads, women’s squads and youth rec leagues) found a home in 2006 in Chamblee, Ga. A brief hiatus held them back in ’09 and ’10, but for the 2011 campaign the team triumphantly returned to action, now in the North American Soccer League.
So yes, much like the city when Sherman burned it during the Civil War, the Silverbacks have come back. But does that alone mean it’s worth going to a game?
5283 Buford Highway NE
Doraville, GA 30340
3352 Chamblee Tucker Rd
Chamblee, GA 30341
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