Chick Fila Kickoff- More Than Just a Game...or Two

Chick Fila Kickoff- More Than Just a Game...or Two
September 5, 2012, 8:41 pm
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Chick Fil--A Kickoff expands to two games and all of downtown Atlanta.Leslie Koerdt
Tailgating takes a twist at the Chick Fila Kickoff Game as the entire downtown Atlanta area istransformed into one giant tailgate with something for everyone. This year the Chick Fila Kickoff expanded itsfan experience to the area Atlantans recognize as Falcons Landing. Fan groupshad the opportunity to bring their parties to the courtyard of the Georgia Domebringing smiles to the faces of local venders whose patios graciously welcomedthe overflow of Tailgate Town and the FanZone in the neighboring Georgia World Congress Center. The additions to the fan experience were not music toeveryones ears though. Fans actually experiencedless congestion than previous years, but events such as Downtown Touchdown Concerts saw fewer patrons. The two day concert featured American Idolwinner and Georgia Native Phillip Philips on Friday and the likes of HeidiNewfield, Sister Hazel, and Smash Mouth on Saturday. What it did not feature was packed crowds inCentennial Olympic Park. As I made mytour of the festivities, I honestly thought that attendance was down, but Iknew otherwise as soon as I hit the Georgia Dome tunnel. Announced attendance for the Auburn versus Clemson game seta new Chick Fila record at 75,211, and perhaps another record, they were allwearing orange. (Friday did bring otherparts of the spectrum with NC States red out.) The roaring crowd had to be than enoughmusic for the game organizers, especially on a Saturday night prime time spot. Both teams and fan bases seemed to havesomething to prove. After all, thesaying goes, Auburn is Clemson without a lake. These fans were determined to do everythingin their power to give their teams an edge, and to both sides, well done. The Friday match up of Tennessee and Clemson did not bringthe same punch with an announced attendance of 55,000. More than the numbers, the decreased decibellevel could be attributed to timid Volunteer fans. Yes, I said timid. It seems the national media were not the onlyones surprised by the performance of Derek Dooleys squad. The once boisterous fan base was tempered,and even seemed to be waiting for the other shoe to drop. It is only one game, but Vol fans, I believeit is time to start cheering.The two game format does seem to have been a success, butthere was a dark shadow cast after the news that a 20 year old Tennessee fanwas fatally injured after falling from the upper deck during Fridaysgame. It has been difficult for me towrap my head around the fact that an accident like this occurred right behindme, and I knew nothing of it until I saw the news. As hard as it is to imagine how somethinglike this happens, let us all take something away from this tragedy. None of us are in a vacuum. Be aware of your surroundings for your safetyand of those around you. This space youshare is with 75,000 or so of your closest friends, lets all try to get alongand get home safe.

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