My youngest daughter, Larae, and I arrived in Atlanta early Friday evening. We decided to go Downtown to Centennial Olympic Park where there was a free Zac Brown Band concert and many activities for the Final Four going on. We had our first opportunity in the MARTA, Atlanta's public transportation system. It's a train that runs through Atlanta from the city to the outskirts, even to the airport (what a concept! Take note, LV Monorail!) I bought a 5-day unlimited pass for $20. Not a bad deal considering we would be using it every day we were there. My other children, Diana and Michael, arrived later that evening.
On Saturday, we went back down to Centennial Olympic Park again to see the Ludacris concert. Larae and I rode the ferris wheel where I got some great pics of the crowd and all of us enjoyed some food from the local food trucks. We eventually headed towards the Georgia Dome for the games. The lines to get through security were long but once we were in, we made our way to the seats. The stadium holds around 75,000 and was packed with nice variety of colors- orange (Syracuse), red (Louisville), yellow (Wichita State) and maize (Michigan).
Our seats were up in the 300 level, but we could see the court just fine and there was a nice big screen to watch also. We enjoyed two good games and saw both teams that were down most of the game, come back and win (Louisville 72, Wichita State 68 and Michigan 61, Syracuse 56). After the games, we made our way down to the first level where we waved hello to Greg Anthony and Clark Kellogg as they got ready to go on the air. After we made our way out with 75,000 other fans, we decided to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe. Even though it was 1 a.m. Eastern time, our bodies were still on Pacific time, so we were good to go. The place was packed and the atmosphere was quite fun with all the celebrating fans.
Sunday was the "off" day for basketball so we made our way to Turner Field for some Braves baseball. There, we met up with my sister, her husband and my 5-year-old nephew who made the trip from Panama City, Florida to go to the game with us. We watched the Braves beat the Cubs and had a great Mexican dinner afterwards at Jalapeno Charlies in Downtown Atlanta.
On Monday, we had all day to goof off since the championship game didn't start until after 9 p.m. ET. The Louisville and Michigan fans were everywhere. Michigan needs a better chant because all we heard over and over was C A R D S CARDS! Go Blue just wasn't the same. Even Larae picked up the Cards chant although at the end of the night, she had changed it to Y M C A CAMP! and had us laughing so hard at the MARTA station.
We spent the day at the Peachtree Mall and wandering around Bracket Town, where there were plenty of games to play, prizes to win and, coincidentally, the UNLV/California game was playing in the lounge so we got to watch that upset again (not fun!). We hung around the Georgia Dome and did a little "tailgating" outside before we went in. Although nothing like the tailgates I organize at Sam Boyd Stadium, this one consisted of a few beers from the vendor and some cookies I had bought at the mall earlier. The game was a great one, as I'm sure you all saw, and was back and forth most of the time. In the end, the National Championship was awarded to the Louisville Cardinals. I am still finding confetti in my purse that fell from the top of the dome.
The best part about Monday night's game was hearing Coach Jerry Tarkanian's name announced as a member of the 2013 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame during the second half. After so many years of being excluded, the voters finally woke up and realized Coach Tark belongs in the hall. Coach Tark was helped out onto the court by his son and daughter-in-law and stood proudly with the other newly inducted members. As a longtime Rebels fan, it was a very proud moment for me as well.
It was a wonderful time that I am so lucky to have experienced this with my children. Even without the Rebels being there, we had so much fun and Atlanta was a great host city. Maybe I will apply for tickets for the 2014 NCAA Tourney in Dallas. But first, I have to pay for my UNLV season tickets. I have priorities.
See you soon Rebel fans and friends.