Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The Dream play at Philips Arena. If you've never attended a Dream game, but if you've attended one of the many concerts held at Philips, you're in luck. Many of Atlanta's major concert events are held at Philips, so getting to the game is just the same as if you were going to a concert at Philips. Furthermore, if you've ever been to the Georgia Dome, then Philips isn't that far away.
Philips actually has its own website which provides its own instructions as to how to get to the arena and what to expect when you get there. There is also a Wikipedia article.
From what Dream fans have written in the comments section of other posts, you should be able to get to Philips Arena directly by MARTA, which is Atlanta's subway. It's stop W1 on the East-West line - the Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Center stop. If your coming up the North-South line, you would get on the westbound line by transferring at the Five Points stop.
Philips is actually a nice place. It's fairly new as far as arenas go. It was built in 1999, so the new still hasn't worn off of it and you don't have to worry about sitting behind a post the way you might at a more ancient structure. There are a bevy of food stands when you get to the main arena - trust me, you don't have to worry about finding something to eat - and there is a Taco Mac connected directly to the arena. (Although, I couldn't tell you where the connection is if you paid me.) There didn't seem to be many souvenirs for sale - but I haven't looked at what was on sale at the souvenir stands since early 2008.
Going into the arena, if you look up - high up - you'll find some sections of the arena closed off by large, black curtains. Philips at full capacity seats 21,000 people, so the black curtains keep the place from looking empty on TV.
During the game, there's a lot going on. Most modern sports teams know that it's a good idea to keep the fans occupied during stoppages in play. The Dream usually has some local group or singer to sing the National Anthem, and the Shooting Stars dancers - the Atlanta Dream dance troupe - and Star the mascot are usually giving out T-shirts and other items. There are audience participation games, like when two kids from the audience are giving the daunting challenge of putting on a Dream uniform and racing to the basket. There's generally a half-time show of some kind, so kids will never be bored.
The audience tends to skew in two directions - African American and older. Not only will you see the occasional member of the Atlanta Hawks or Falcons in the crowd, occasionally there will be a rap or R&B star there as well. It's not exactly a festival, but there tends to be a boisterous vibe that brings the crowd on its feet.
As for neighborhood, the surrounding is "downtown tourist Atlanta". A lot of people in general. It's worth seeing Philips Arena at least once, even if you don't go to a Dream game.
Any comments are welcome from established Dream fans regarding the atmosphere, other fans, the structure itself, about the staff or services offered, or anything else. What would you tell a new fan about Philips Arena if they had never gone there?