Athens, Georgia can be considered the most beloved city in the state. Yes, Atlanta has all the attractions and Savannah has the history. But there is nothing like going to Athens on a Saturday, especially in the fall.
The reason for this is that the Georgia Bulldogs play their football games at Sanford Stadium. Known as the seventh-largest on-campus stadium in the country, Sanford Stadium has been through a lot of changes since 1929. From the removal and addition of the privet hedges to the recent expansions, Sanford Stadium is certainly the place to be in Athens on Saturdays.
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 inside Sanford is typical for a college stadium. There are hot dogs, popcorn, candy and pizza all at a reasonable price.
One of things that stands out for me is the barbecue pork sandwich and the smoked sausage. I did not have either, but you would have to work hard to mess one of those up. So both foods are worth a shot, especially for $5.
Because the stadium is located on campus, there is no alcohol. The beverages include Coke products and water.
If you don't want to eat at the stadium, you can eat at the student center. Chick-fil-A is the best option, and the prices are the same as you find in a normal restaurant.
I have been to plenty of Georgia games, and there is nothing like sitting in Sanford Stadium with over 90,000 fans. From the sea of red and black to the cheering from beginning to end, going to a game is an experience itself.
Even if you sit all the way up in the nosebleed seats, there is not a bad place to watch the game. One of the cool things is that fans who can't get inside the stadium can see a little bit of the game behind the scoreboard, because of that area being open.
The atmosphere of Sanford Stadium is the reason fans can't get enough of UGA football.
Athens is a great college town because there is always something to do. But it's mostly known for its music scene.
Bands such as Widespread Panic and R.E.M. have originated there. Rap artist Bubba Sparxx even calls Athens home. If you want to check out good music, check out AthFest, where over 100 bands perform over a three-day period.
There is a club and bar at every block, so there is never a dull moment. Flanagan's and Trappeze are a few of the best bars to visit, and for fine dining; The National is the way to go.
If you are looking for something different, take a trip to the Terrapin Beer Company. Terrapin is considered as one of the best craft breweries in the country, and always gives the tourist what they want.
Another reason you should go to Sanford Stadium is the fans. The men wear red pants and the women are in their red and black dresses.
The student section gets to the stadium early, and the students in the front row dress like they are going to an Oakland Raiders game.
One of the coolest things during the game is right before the fourth quarter everyone in the stadium holds four fingers up in the air and move them up and down as the band plays "Krypton Fanfare".
The fans are knowledgeable about the Bulldogs and the rest of the teams in the SEC. They give their respect to the past players and they love the players that are currently playing for them.
Before the game, you can find all types of fans walking around the campus wearing the colors and socializing before kickoff, which is such a refreshing sight.
If you are coming from Atlanta, US Highway 78 or Georgia 316 will be the easiest ways to get to Athens. Both roads can and will get crowded on game day, but watching the cars with the Georgia flags is not a bad thing to see.
Parking can also be a challenge if you want to park close to the stadium, because you will need a permit for most lots. But if you don't want to pay $20-$30 to park in the city, park at the East Campus deck, and a shuttle will take you to and from the game.
Everything is marked inside the stadium, so getting to where you want to go is never a challenge. The restrooms are always clean and there are plenty of them, which is a must.
I've been to Sanford Stadium in many different capacities. Every time I go, there is a different experience, which makes the trip worth it.
Ticket prices for the games vary depending on the opponent. If the Bulldogs face a non-conference opponent from a non-BCS league, the cheapest ticket will be around $45. For a conference game, you will spend over $100 for one ticket.
If you want to experience a UGA game or an SEC atmosphere, you will get your money's worth.
The one downfall is that there really are no ticket deals. Fans will buy tickets, regardless, because they are not going for just the game; they are going for the entire experience, which lasts more than three hours.
The mascot, Uga, is one of the most recognizable mascots in the country. His Dawg house inside the stadium is quite the sight.
The $5 programs have more than enough information on the Bulldogs and the opposing team. The size of the publication is more like a yearbook for the team than a program for a single game.
If you want to get the latest team gear, check out the bookstore right next to the stadium. The store has everything and anything Bulldogs, and the prices are reasonable.
For fans who want to listen to the game on the radio, AM 750 WSB is the flagship station for the Georgia football, and they have hours of non-stop coverage. It's unfortunate that Larry Munson is no longer with us, but Scott Howard and Eric Zeier do a great job of calling the games.
Out of all the football experiences in Georgia, Sanford Stadium may be the best. From the fans to the nightlife, there is never a dull moment when going to a Georgia Bulldogs football game. With the team's recent success, tickets have been hard to come by. Just being in the city and not going to the game is an experience by itself. So, if you live in Georgia and have not been to Sanford Stadium, make it a priority to go as soon as possible.
Looking back, so many of my fondest college memories are set "Between the Hedges," taking in UGA football with classmates. Back then, it was about jumping up and down, producing a constant stream of noise (when the Dawgs were on defense, that is) and generally acting a fool.
Today, however, I remove myself from the student section with the intent to impartially evaluate glorious Sanford Stadium, that most hallowed of grounds"¦.
Whoops; this is supposed to be impartial, right?
Oh, who am I kidding? It would be even more dishonest to try to keep a straight face as I evoke 81 years of history and my time spent with "92,746 of my closest friends."
I can at least start with the easily worst category, though, so as to thinly veil my bias.
Ample nightlife in downtown Athens
Hedges, Uga mascots, and tailgaiting to boot
Parking lot-like drive in and out from Atlanta on game days
Better atmosphere than Neyland and Williams-Brice and similar to Jordan-Hare and Clemson's Death Valley. I have not been to Bryant Denny or Tiger Stadium (LSU) so I can't compare...even though admittedly they are most likely better.
Would give much better review if the food was worth ANYTHING! Possibly the worst food I have every experienced. High priced, poor quality, lack of variety, lines too long, sellers are rude, underage workers,...I could go on and on and on..
Not a positive fan experience.
Georgia's structure won't win any awards. You see major slabs of concrete that give it a sterile feel. However, that is probably the only blip of the place. The atmosphere itself is amazing and definitely worth a trip.
FOOD & BEVERAGE: Anytime when Subway is your standout concession item, you have problems. But you are in Georgia, the home of Coca-Cola. Grab it and for some reason it tastes better in Georgia anyway.
ATMOSPHERE: You are in a true college setting at UGA. No questions about that. The "other" sea of red looks neat and not many places can emulate a Saturday gameday like UGA can. And believe me, I am no UGA fan at all.
NEIGHBORHOOD: You are smack dab in the campus at the stadium. Not a lot to do until you get off the campus and then it is pretty neat.
FANS: Into the game even if it is a blowout. However, you have relatively rude people cutting in front of you for concessions, souvenirs, and to get in to the stadium. I have no idea why.
ACCESS: Depends on how you look at it. From Atlanta, you need to take Georgia 316 to get there and most of it is 2 lanes and under construction. If you are on campus, parking is cheap or free pending on where you go and relatively easy to get in and get out. You are parked a good bit away if you are on the intramural fields or by the Health Building (all free), but you can notch a free ride on the shuttle buses.
ROI: Tickets are not easy to come by at UGA, even for low-level schools like Troy, but prices for food and souvenirs (most shirts and caps were $15) are great bargains.
EXTRAS: Inside, and especially if you sit in the East End Zone, you have a beautiful scenic view of the campus (which emulated from UNC's Kenan Stadium). Also, everything is clean and well-run at UGA. Plus, the traditions they have is second to none.
Overall the stadium was nice, but the food was AWFUL. The fans were great and passionate, but for a stadium of its size the noise level just wasn't there compared to a few other places I've visited (Clemson, FSU, LSU).
265 Newton Bridge Rd
Athens, GA 30607
174-184 W Clayton St
Athens, GA 30601
401 E Broad St
Athens, GA 30601
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230 N Finley St
Athens, GA 30601