Near the heart of college football’s biggest market in Atlanta stands Bobby Dodd Stadium. Opening its doors in September of 1913, Bobby Dodd is the oldest FBS stadium in the country and definitely has a classic college football feel to it. The historic stadium’s namesake served the university for 57 years as assistant coach, head coach and athletic director. Dodd most notably racked up 165 wins and a national championship during his coaching tenure from 1945-1966. The stadium was renamed for Dodd in 1988 and currently holds up to 55,000.
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The stadium offers a pretty wide variety of food options and even some choices available outside the gates on the street. For the best selection of specialty food, stick to the home side of the stadium. There you'll find several standard "Gridiron Grill" concessions, as well as delicious options like Sonny's Pit BBQ, The Nutty Bavarian and The Malt Shoppe. If your seats are on the visiting side, your options will be drastically reduced to Gridiron Grill or Domino's Pizza. Beer is not served at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Pricing at the Gridiron Grill locations is surprisingly reasonable for a venue like this, with most items falling under $7. Specialty items vary in price, and I'd recommend you bring some cash, because not all of the lines take cards.
Combine the oldest stadium in the FBS with a classic college football contender and you get exactly the atmosphere you would expect. Nostalgia hangs around the stadium and throughout campus for a Yellow Jackets game, which makes for a must-see college football atmosphere. It may not be as loud or large as some of its nearby SEC neighbors, but what Bobby Dodd lacks in scale, it makes up for in aura. Walking through campus, you'll see tailgates on frat row with sharply-dressed students grilling on their lawns before heading to the game. Outside the gates of the stadium, you'll catch a glimpse of the 1930 Ford Model A known as the "Ramblin' Wreck" as it drives through the festivities. It really feels like a trip back in time to the early days of college football.
Inside the stadium, the atmosphere you'll get offers even more of the unique classic college football pageantry. Student sections behind both ends zones erupt as the Ramblin' Wreck leads the Yellow Jackets onto the field. The Yellow Jacket Marching Band is one of the more impressive bands in college football and puts on a great show. Overall, the pageantry of the Georgia Tech football game day makes a Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium an essential trip for the college football fan.
The stadium itself is mostly bleacher seating, but it offers plenty of room to move around. The concourse on the home side is wide with plenty of room to move, but the visiting side is much more prone to bottlenecks. There really aren't bad seats in the house, and the upper deck is still relatively close to the field.
It's hard to complain about a campus that is less than a mile from the big city attractions of Atlanta. The city, although close, doesn't at all take away from the college experience. The green areas of campus are just west of the stadium, and it makes for a beautiful walk to and from the game.
Georgia Tech is a beautiful campus just north of Atlanta and has every amenity you could ask for nearby. If you're looking for post-game (or pre-game) activities, there's more than enough to fill your Saturday. Just across the Interstate (less than 2 blocks away) is The Varsity. I would argue it's impossible to go to a college football game in the state of Georgia without making a stop here. The greasy burgers and chili dogs are a staple of the Georgia experience. If you head south for about three-quarters of a mile, you'll find some great places to load up on additional football or indulge in some Atlanta touristy activities. On Marietta Street you'll find Stats, a sports bar with more TVs than anyone could need on a football Saturday, and even a ticker with sports news running around the bar. Practically next door, you can eat a hearty German meal with a giant beer while you watch the big games of the day at Der Biergarten. If you're looking for tourist options, the Georgia Aquarium, World Of Coca-Cola and Olympic Park are all across the street from the food and bar options.
There are some pros and cons of the fan base at the Georgia Tech games. The fans are extremely welcoming, and at the same time, very passionate for their Yellow Jackets. On the other hand, seats seem to be available, and on my visit the stadium wasn't anywhere near full. The fans in attendance are passionate and will make a lot of noise and do everything they can to support their team. The student sections are large and involved, but not full. Empty seats are scattered throughout the stadium. On my specific visit in the fall of 2013, they were even undefeated facing a conference foe, which makes the number of empty seats a little more baffling. The weather did roll in during the second quarter, and the stadium emptied out even further. Overall, there's a great brand of fan at the games, but the atmosphere would only be enhanced if there were more of them.
The stadium is located just west of I-75 about a mile north of downtown Atlanta. The southern city is known for a lot of traffic congestion, so plan to arrive early to account for difficulty navigating the interstates. However, once you exit the interstate onto campus, you'll find it incredibly easy to get around. There are a number of lots on and around campus, and there will be attendants to direct street parking. Rates vary, but $20 for decent parking is probably what a visiting fan should expect. Most of the tailgating takes place on campus, but you'll be able to set up in most of the lots if you get there early enough.
Walking to the stadium is easy enough, just follow the crowds. You can enter on three sides and from any gate. The home side is open and free-moving, but if you're on the visitors side or need to walk around the scoreboard end, expect walking traffic to get a little tighter as you make your way around.
Hotel accommodations are abundant in the area, with options both on campus and downtown. Expect to pay a little more than usual because the campus is so close to downtown Atlanta. If you're looking to take advantage of tourist options, the Hilton Garden Inn or Omni Hotel are located within easy walking distance of everything you need downtown, while still close to the stadium.
Tickets for the game are very reasonable compared to normal college football prices. You can find tickets for under $50, and likely in the $25-$35 range for most games. Obviously, these prices can vary based on the game, but for a one-time visitor, it's more than worth the experience. A unique feature is an option to upgrade your ticket prior to gameday, a feature I wish more college stadiums would embrace. This definitely gives more options for good seats than you get at some other venues that sell everything good to the highest bidder.
The extras here really lie around the tradition and pageantry. When I choose to go to a college football game, it's pageantry that sets it apart from every other sport. Georgia Tech has more than enough of this to go around, and the age of the stadium definitely contributes to that classic feel. Again, this is a must stop on the bucket list of any true college football traveler.
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.
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.
I've been to a number of GT games. I love the venue with the skyscrapers in the background. The crowd can be a bit game at tame relative to peer universities. Still there are few venues with this level of charm
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