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Official Review by Joshua Guiher, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Chick-fil-A bowl is played in the Georgia Dome on December 31st each year. The matchup features a team from the SEC versus a team from the ACC. To many, the game is considered one of the top matchups outside of the BCS.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl originated as the Peach Bowl in 1968, and is still referred to as such by many who choose to ignore the corporate sponsorships which have overtaken the more traditional names over the years.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food at the Georgia Dome is fairly basic, but that is not the fault of the Chick-fil-A Bowl since the dome is mainly used by the Atlanta Falcons. You can get your normal nachos, hot dogs and popcorn at just about every stand, but there are not a whole lot of unique concessions. The best is probably the Taco Mac location on the top level and, of course, Chick-fil-A.
For beverages, you have your standard Coca-Cola products and a few beer options with most alcohol selling for $7.
Simply, there is nothing special so try eating some place in town before attending the game, or after the game has concluded.
The atmosphere at the Chick-fil-A Bowl is top notch. The bowl does an amazing job of allowing both teams' fans to feel at home, providing each with the opportunity to loudly cheer on their team. Piped-in music is a good selection and both bands were given time to play during timeouts.
The highlight of the event is probably the parachuting stuffed Chick-fil-A cows that drop from the rafters during the pre-game ceremony. Another crowd favorite is that the bowl actually allows each band to play a decent playlist both during the pre-game and half time activities.
I've been to 13 different bowls to date and this was by far my favorite atmosphere.
The primary purpose of a bowl game is to bring visitors to a town, and the Chick-fil-A Bowl does just that. The Georgia Dome is located in a perfect part of downtown Atlanta. It is near the famous CNN building, Centennial Park, the Georgia Aquarium and the Coca-Cola Museum. This location allows for visitors to spend multiple days in the area, checking out all of the popular tourist attractions.
The one drawback is that parking can be a bit expensive, but look for early-bird specials to keep parking costs down. Also, by arriving early, you can beat the huge crowds at the more popular attractions.
For food, I highly recommend Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, which is located about three miles from the Georgia Dome. Sure, it is a little further away than most places in the immediate neighborhood, but it is well worth the drive. Seriously, you can't go wrong with a BBQ joint that comes highly recommended by both Andy Staples and Chadd Scott.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl has sold out for 15 straight years and has a strong national reputation for having great fans. The fans were loud, came early and stayed until the very end despite a game that became lopsided in the second half. It was a very well behaved crowd that seemed appreciative of the bowl staff, and the venue.
Accessing the Georgia Dome was easy with well-marked signs and multi-lane highways leading right to the parking lots. Try the parking deck by the Philips Arena for an easy place to park and a walk that is well lighted.
Once inside, the concourses are nice and wide, allowing for easy pedestrian flow.
Bathrooms were clean and easy to find.
Ticket prices are on the upper side for bowl games, but when you realize that the game matches an SEC team versus an ACC team, it is well worth the price. As mentioned above, since the game sells out every year, be sure to book your ticket early so you don't have to pay above face value on the secondary market.
One star for having the best event staff in the business. While most are volunteers, they have regular meetings multiple times a month so that they all know their exact job and all the answers to your questions.
One star for creating the only "must-have" bowl souvenir in the parachuting cows.
Another point for the activities they promote throughout the week for the fans to both enjoy their time in Atlanta and to have opportunities to meet their favorite players. Activities include a parade and team trips to the Georgia Aquarium.
The final point is for taking the time to put each team's logo in the end zones, despite an NFL game being scheduled on the field just 14 hours after the completion of the bowl. It took approximately 15 employees about six hours each to complete the logo transition, so I have to honor the dedication to the small details that make the bowl look more professional than most.
As I stated above, I have been to 13 different bowl games from the worst in the country to BCS bowls. My visit to the Chick-fil-A Bowl was by far my favorite and I hope to be able to go again soon. If you are just beginning to entertain the idea of attending a Bowl game, or looking ahead to the 2012 Bowl season, then this is a game that you should consider adding to your travel itinerary.
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Atlanta, GA 30313
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