ATLANTA - Atlanta's new Mercedes-Benz Stadium will host the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday, and public safety officials said they are prepared for the major event. The two biggest concerns are the safety and security of everyone not to mention the heavy traffic.
The College Football Playoff National Championship might be the biggest game to battle it out in the young Mercedes-Benz Stadium's life. More than 100,000 people could flood into the downtown area on Monday for the game between Alabama and Georgia as they vie for the National Championship. Because both teams are located so close to the venue, more people are expected to come into town to participate, even if they don't get into the stadium because of the high ticket prices.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms was joined by a number of city officials, including Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields and Atlanta Fire Rescue Chief Joel Baker, for a joint news briefing to discuss safety preparations.
"Nothing matters more to us than to coordinate a safe and secure event," Mayor Bottoms said. "Our message to the public is simple: enjoy the game, enjoy the city, and let us handle the details."
Mayor Bottoms said Chief Shields and Chief Baker have spent months planning and preparing for the championship game.
"We have brought law enforcement and first responders from local, state, and federal on board," Chief Shields said. "We are determined to make this a success."
Chief Shields encouraged fans to take advantage of public transportation and to plan on arriving early.
"Where you're going to feel it is the traffic," said Chief Shields.
Major traffic delays are expected, including President Donald Trump's presidential motorcade.
While government offices will be closing early in downtown Atlanta, officials warn that getting into downtown early is paramount.
"I would love to see people at around 4 o'clock, here well in advance, to just be able to park and go out and go to one of the many restaurants and just have a relaxing evening. That would be fabulous," said Chief Shields.
Bill Hancock, College Football Playoff Executive Director was asked how many gates will be open and what advice he had for people to make sure they didn't miss the first quarter.
"I got three words: 'every gate" and "four" go in Gate Four," said Hancock.
A year ago, playoff fans waited in a line as long as 90 minutes.
"We did have a little bit of trouble last year in Tampa. It was cold there. But we had a little bit of trouble because they all went in the same gate," said Hancock. "If you're coming into that stadium, Gate Two, a lot of folks will be coming in Gate Two, Gate Three, but some, go to Gate Four, that's the way to get in.
To get into those gates faster, officials advise fans to use the clear bag provided and that all bags are subject to being searched.
"There are over 200,000 bags that have been produced and that will be at all of the hotels and all the different venues that people will be able to get," Atlanta Police said. "These bags will be readily available just about anywhere."
"I am confident that we are ready," Chief Baker said. "We are looking forward to a safe, enjoyable, College Football Playoff National Championship game."
Chief Baker also said his final parting thought was "Go Dawgs!"