Bobby Dodd Stadium is the longtime home of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The man for whom the stadium is named is a Hall of Fame player and coach who lost but one game as quarterback of the Tennessee Volunteers and then led Georgia Tech to an overwhelmingly winning record over 32 seasons as head coach, including a 9-4 record in bowl games.
The resume gets longer from there, with more than 25 years as Tech's athletic director and general recognition as a hard-nosed and honorable competitor, so it's no surprise he's got not only brick-and-mortar named after him, but also a Coach of the Year Award.
Recently, the field's been home to the exciting triple-option offense of head coach Paul Johnson and a consistently solid product. I must admit, as I age, I more and more frequently find myself drawn into their games and rooting on their side - even if I am a graduate of the University of Georgia.
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With a far greater selection than any other college football stadium I've been to, Bobby Dodd rates favorably to its equivalents on other campuses and decently even when put up against professional teams' homes.
The general concessions stands ("Ramblin' Refreshments") have your usual selections at usual stadium prices, though each also has an additional sandwich option, and those vary throughout. I saw one that made cheesesteaks ($6), and others had burgers and chicken options to go with the hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, etc.
Much better are the couple of branded stands, including a Willy's Mexicana Grill that serves a fair number of their menu items, and at darn close to regular price. I'll take a quesadilla (max of $7) over the stone-cold "pizzas" of Sanford Stadium any day.
And to boot, you can easily pick up a Chick-fil-A at a tent outside on your way in; that might be all you're looking for at noon, anyway.
Even a non-conference matchup with a 12 p.m. kickoff (albeit early in the season) managed to near fill the place, and the noise was there, if not deafening. Bobby Dodd suffers a little because of how open and spread-out it is -- sound escapes in all directions, rather than getting trapped and reverberating as in a higher-walled stadium.
Still, the place is capable of getting rowdy, the band was playing (though I advise them to never try Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" again) and the Jumbotron played its role, if in a slightly dopey fashion. Whatever that song was ("We've got the triple option/We pick and choose/We got the triple option/We never lose"), it came off dumb to me, but I can see a Tech student getting down to that.
A couple of the photos I took manage to capture this, at least in part -- this is a very urban campus, comparatively, and it's actually quite neat to see skyscrapers beyond the seats. With residence halls facing some of Atlanta's busiest streets, it's certainly a different experience from the idyllic "grassy quad."
And that's good and bad: perhaps that's what a student is looking for in their campus, and perhaps that makes it more convenient to alum who work and live in the metropolis. It does not make for the safest conditions, though, and while I-75/85 just a couple blocks away provides easier access (see that section), it adds noise and congestion that some don't care for.
As I always do with a downtown review, I'll plug the Varsity, which is closer to Bobby Dodd than any other venue via the location right at Spring Street and North Avenue. Two blocks east and one north (on Ponce de Leon) is Mary Mac's Tea Room, an old-school favorite.
If you're looking for fancier, you may be confused about which "football" you're about to see, but there's Spoon on the west side of campus, a block south on Marietta St. But really, the gridiron and grease go hand-in-hand, people.
Student sections are always a big factor here for me, and I took note that all present dressed in appropriate colors and participated in chants, cheers and movements, even if the buzzing noise they make after kickoff (mimicking their insect mascot, I guess) is less-than-intimidating.
Amongst alumni -- many of whom come with kids in-tow - knowledge of the team and the sport, as well as passion, are found in spades. Just don't be "that guy," the one behind me who felt the need to break down every play to his poor buddy sitting adjacent.
A category that typically suffers for "heart of Atlanta" locations is somewhat remedied here by three things, the first and most significant being that for those living on campus, there is no need to even get in a car. As I walked from the Marta station, I saw students walk right out of their dorm's front door and turn towards the stadium -- brings back memories!
Speaking of Marta, that bastion of public transit and all its ridiculed-glory is extremely convenient and always my method of choice "" you'll want to use the North Avenue stop, which is on the North-South line and just two stops above Five Points, where East-West riders will switch trains.
By car, you're likely on I-75/85, the grotesque hybrid of two of the city's craziest highways. Your exit is that of North Avenue, which you'll head west on and almost immediately need to start hunting for parking, of which there is little.
Here I must criticize one interior facet, that being the restrooms, at least the men's -- these odd entrance ramps you've built, my dear engineer, put those waiting at an odd angle above those relieving themselves; I felt like a peeping tom.
Unique from the process at many schools where donors gobble up every seat with their season tickets, there are individual games for sale to the general public, normally starting in July. You can't pay more than $70, even for an ACC game, which wouldn't be half-bad if you got a good matchup.
Much more reasonable, however, would be to buy off a scalper, from whom lower-level tickets can be had for less than the minimum $50 (excepting the UGA game and a truly-great ranked opponent). Myself, I wouldn't spend more than $30, and that'd have to be a great contest, i.e., no Duke.
Let's toss on an extra point for my obvious prejudice, and another that results from combined half-points I might have added to "Neighborhood" and "Return on Investment." This is my hometown, after all, so it's fascinating to experience college football in the heart of it, and in the end I can admit ACC football does have a certain flavor to it I don't detest.
Another point for Buzz, the anthropomorphic insect who I've always had a soft spot for (unlike, say, Tennessee's hound Smokey). He was not quite rambunctious and mischievous enough in the stands, but he was there all the same.
And heck, why not give 'em one for the nice brickwork out front -- you'll see in the pictures the classy facade they've put up as well as the well-done main gate.
but the fans could get into the game a bit more. There is a major difference between seeing a game here and at the University of Georgia.
Great staduim to watch GREAT football in a close setting. You can see top-notch teams in great environment.
Food is awesome and reasonably priced! GT knows how to make the fan feel warm with their hospitality from the time they enter until the time they leave.
Food varieties make me want to try something new each time I attend.
The oldest venue in the FBS, there is a lot of history at Bobby Dodd Stadium. It isn't the largest by any accounts, but what it has serves the place well. And Georgia Tech is pretty much the afterthought in Georgia with the Bulldogs an hour away from Atlanta. It is a great place to watch the game and you do feel close to the action, regardless of where you sit.
Food & Beverage: Great variety of sweets (from funnel cakes to cotton candy to the sweet smell of pecans), and salts (pizza, nachos, dogs, and now a Mexican stand). The food overall is great.
Atmosphere: While Georgia Tech will never win out the entire state of Georgia, there is a top notch atmosphere with the band playing, the Ramblin Wreck, and the area itself is just a fun place on gameday. Great college feel to it.
Neighborhood: Around you have some good spots, with the Varsity an Interstate crossing away. Not too bad, but nothing really to get excited about as most of the campus buildings are around the stadium.
Fans: They are intense during the games I've been there and they cheer from the coin flip to the very end. And they have one large passion: hating UGA.
Access: While you can see it off of I-75/85, trying to park in or around campus is a pain. When you do park, it is a healthy distance away.
ROI: Georgia Tech's tickets are relatively cheap to get, regardless of who comes in save for Georgia. Any spot in the stadium is a good view and if you are upper level endzone, you have a great scenic skyline view of Atlanta. Scoreboard has been upgraded and the place is an underrated gem.
Extras: The place is nice overall and as I mentioned earlier, the sightlines are splendid all over as you really don't miss anything as well as you are very close to the action as well as it is a nice place to take in a football game.
Overall, while it doesn't have the same feel as larger stadiums (GT holds a little over 50,000) you still get a great college football experience and it is a must do for any college football fan.
61 North Avenue Northwest
Atlanta, GA 30308
224 Ponce de Leon Ave
Atlanta, GA 30308
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