There's a new book out called The Ultimate Football Road Trip that details author Sean MacDonald's plan and suggestions for visiting every single NFL stadium for a home game. That's a pretty epic undertaking.
For the 2014 season, MacDonald recommends swinging through Atlanta for a Thursday Night Football matchup against the Buccaneers on September 18th. For each city on the list, MacDonald covers tourist attractions--for Atlanta, the World of Coke is overrated, while the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site is a must-see, and I'd agree with both assessments. MacDonald also gives an overview of where fans should stay based on proximity to the stadium and convenience, public transportation, and details about the stadium itself.
MacDonald did not love the Georgia Dome for myriad reasons. One, he didn't like the setup, in that he didn't like being denied access to concessions, etcetera, on the 100 level because his seat was in the 200 level. In general, MacDonald didn't feel that the Dome was particularly fan-friendly. Of course, all of this will be moot when the Falcons open their new stadium in 2017. It's safe to assume that a fan-friendly experience will be at the top of owner Arthur Blank's list of priorities, but for now, MacDonald has ranked the Georgia Dome 31st out of 32 stadium experiences.
This book is also a useful resource if you want to go see the Falcons on the road, or if you just like going to NFL games. The Falcons play the Bengals in Cincinnati in week two, and if you're heading to that game, you should know that parking meters are only enforced in Cincinnati until 5 p.m., so you may be able to secure free street parking. You should also know that they have a sandwich available called a "Who Dey Melt," which is a grilled cheese sandwich with your choice of filling--beef brisket, pulled pork, chicken, and macaroni and cheese are all available. Despite the availability of that delicacy, MacDonald ranked Paul Brown Stadium 15th of 32 in terms of fan experience.
Atlanta's next road game is against the Vikings, but they're playing at a different venue this season, sharing the University of Minnesota's stadium while construction is completed on their new stadium, so MacDonald didn't have a lot to say about this one. If you do want to go to this game, purchase tickets early, because the capacity of the Gophers' TCF Bank Stadium is considerably less than the Metrodome. MacDonald ranked the Metrodome 21st of 32 for fan experience, but since this game won't be at the Metrodome, it's hard to know what the fan experience will be like this season.
In week five, the Falcons play the Giants in Met Life Stadium. MacDonald says that Giants fans are pretty good natured and that it's a fun stadium experience. Apparently Met Life uses different visual elements, such as lighting the external stadium area with blue lights, to distinguish a Jets game experience from a Giants game experience. MacDonald recommends visiting the Legacy Club on the 100 Concourse level inside the stadium if you care about seeing Giants memorabilia. Even if you don't care that much about seeing Giants memorabilia, the Legacy Club offers free admission. MacDonald ranked the Giants Met Life Stadium experience 27th of 32, which was surprising to me considering how relatively new that stadium is. Sharing a stadium with another team hinders the uniqueness of the experience, I guess.
Atlanta's next road stop is Baltimore. You can visit Babe Ruth's birthplace and the Camden Yards Sports Legends Museum also sounds pretty neat. All in all, MacDonald enjoyed M&T Bank Stadium very much, ranking it fifth on his list for a fan-friendly experience.
Next up for the Falcons is a trip to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. It's just about a six and a half hour drive for Atlantans, so many fans may plan to go to this one. MacDonald recommends the Tampa Bay Brew Bus, a shuttle bus that takes passengers on a brewery tour/pub crawl experience. Visit their website for full details. You can also plan to visit the first Original Hooters in Clearwater, about 15 miles from the stadium. MacDonald ranked the Raymond James fan experience 24th out of 32 stadiums. One detail MacDonald didn't mention about the Raymond James stadium experience is the cannon. Be aware of that so you don't react like Cam Newton and Steve Mariucci did.
The Falcons have back-to-back divisional road games, heading to Charlotte the following week to take on the Panthers. You can visit Charlotte's NASCAR Hall of Fame and learn all about how stock car racing descended from moonshiners using fast cars to outrun the law as well as enjoy some racing simulators and fun for the whole family. Parking at Bank of America Stadium is not ideal, according to MacDonald, so you may want to make other arrangements. Bank of America Stadium was ranked 11th out of 32 stadiums by MacDonald for "great sight lines and atmosphere."
The next road game for the Falcons is in Green Bay on December 8th. While I have yet to visit Lambeau for a game, I have been there for their shareholders' meeting with my husband, and this is objectively an amazing stadium. The Packers are a franchise with a ton of history, and they have a Hall of Fame right inside the stadium filled with memorabilia from their storied past. If you want to save some money, MacDonald recommends that you book a room in nearby Appleton, Wisconsin. That's where the Packers' opponents usually stay, also, so you might even end up running into some Falcons players. MacDonald ranked Lambeau at the very top of his stadium experience list. It's consistently ranked the best stadium experience in professional sports, so that's not surprising.
Atlanta's last regular season road game in 2014 will be against the Saints in week 16. New Orleans is a city with a rich history and culture, as well as amazing food. Just be sure to wear your Falcons gear on Bourbon Street so you don't have to feel guilty about enjoying yourself in New Orleans. The Super Dome is within walking distance of Canal Street. Once inside, you can check out the Saints Hall of Fame. Hopefully they have an exhibit on the paper bags fans wore on their heads for much of the history of the franchise because that's my favorite thing about the Saints. MacDonald ranked the Super Dome experience eighth out of 32 teams. I guess he was there for a game in which they kept the lights on the whole time. (It's hate week, guys. I'm just having some fun.)
If you're interested in reading up on a strategy to see all 32 teams play in their home stadiums this season, or just learning more about the history and amenities of every NFL stadium, check out Sean MacDonald's book, which is available for purchase on Amazon and iBooks.