By: Jeremy Reich, 2nd year Epidemiology
While Emory University is known for its academics, it does not carry the athletic culture that some other schools have (like my Villanova Wildcats). However, for the sports enthusiasts, there is no lack of professional and collegiate sports in the Atlanta area to enjoy. Here are some of the teams offering a great escape from working and school.
Atlanta Hawks: Basketball
The Atlanta Hawks are Atlanta’s professional basketball club based out of Phillips Arena right downtown. The Hawks have become one of the strongest Eastern division NBA teams in the past couple of years. In January of 2015, they set a new record of 17 straight wins and clinched The best record in the East of 60-22. As of writing this, the Hawks just clinched a playoff birth as a #4 seed. Tickets to the games vary by opponent, but you can expect about $20-30 each for the top sections (300s). Keep an eye out for themed nights like Georgia Lottery, Carnival Cruise, or even Tinder for some extra fun.
Also, keep an eye out for people running around in red jumpsuits (I’m one of them). We’re the ones throwing out shirts and prizes to lucky fans.
Atlanta Braves: Baseball
The Atlanta Braves have a rich baseball history dating all the way back to 1871 (when they were the Boston Red Stockings). Since 1966, they have been based out of Atlanta as the Braves. Famous players such as Hank Aaron, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, and Joe Torre have all been part of the Braves experience.
Although they are a historic franchise, I can’t sugar coat the past couple of seasons. In 2015, they went 67-95 and so far in 2016, are 0-9 (ouch)! Although the wins may not be coming easy, this does mean tickets are CHEAP (which is great for grad students). Tickets in the nosebleeds are as cheap as $5 each which makes for a very affordable night. Food and drink in the stadium is expensive but the ticket price really makes it worth it. For $40-60 tickets, you can have all-you-can-eat seats with a buffet of hotdogs, burgers, beer etc.
Scouts Alley provides free batting cages and pitch speed testing to fans before the game. Arrive early to watch batting practice and go for some homerun balls. Although the Braves currently play at Turner Field in downtown Atlanta, they will be moving to a new stadium (SunTrust Park) in 2017 just outside of the Atlanta metropolitan area.
Keep an eye out for promotional nights which happen all the time. Some days you may get free prizes just for going or be a part of a celebration of some sort. The best nights are the ones with post-game concerts (which are included with your ticket!). I went to see a Braves game and Sam Hunt with fellow Rollins students for about $8 total. This season, they have post-game concerts with TobyMac, Chris Stapleton, FloRida, Tori Kelly, and Matthew West.
Atlanta Falcons: Football
The professional football team of Atlanta is the Falcons. Some exciting news about this franchise is the move to a brand new Stadium, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium which is projected to happen in 2017. Falcons ownership is hoping the new stadium will support Atlanta’s bid to host a future Super Bowl. The Falcons have hovered around being a good team for the past several years but have been unable to breakout. Stars such as Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and newcomer Devonta Freeman lead the talented team. The Falcons finished the 2015 season with an 8-8 record and missed the playoffs, but they did hand the Carolina Panthers their one and only loss in the regular season. Tickets get a bit more expensive than the Hawks or Braves, but games can be attended for as low at $40.
University of Georgia Bulldogs and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: The Collegiate Rivalry of Georgia Football
Two prominent college football teams surround the Atlanta area with UGA in Athens (1.5 hours east) and Georgia Tech in downtown Atlanta. The Bulldogs lived up to expectations by going 10-3 in the 2015 season. Although you will not be able to get into the UGA student section, tickets are open to the public. This is one of the more expensive venues to attend with tickets typically over $100 (even for the nosebleeds) but certain games can be found for cheaper based on the opponent. For anyone coming from a big football school, the Bulldogs can help keep that college football fandom going!
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets did not fair as hoped in 2015, finishing at 3-9. Although they struggled, there are still high expectations on a strong football team for next year. Ticket price ranges a lot by the opponent, some games may be as low as $20 or as high as $120. Either way, the Yellow Jackets play just five miles from campus making any game available.
As you can tell, there are many opportunities to have live sports action in the Atlanta area (particularly in basketball, baseball, and football). Less popular teams are in the area as well such as NASCAR at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, the WNBA with the Atlanta Dream, or Atlanta United FC (an MLS club starting in 2017).