ATLANTA - Many fans who were lucky enough to get tickets to Monday night's National Championship game had to stand out in the cold and rain waiting to get inside the stadium. Frustrated fans voiced their concerns for having to wait up to two hours to get inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
There are four primary gates at the stadium. Last night, the Secret Service shut down one for as President Donald Trump’s motorcade pulled up. That closure lasted longer than was expected.
“We're out here two hours and we cannot get in. We don't understand what's going on?” one couple expressed Monday night. “$2,000 a ticket.”
“Due to the security needs for the president, they closed Gate 1 for a period. We knew it was going to be closed, but they closed it a little longer period than we thought,” said Bill Handcock, College Football Playoff Director. “The Secret Service did, doing their job, and unfortunately some fans were inconvenienced. And the inclement weather didn't help anything.”
“Must have been pretty bad. We've been over an hour waiting in a line just to get into the game, which is very confusing and obviously distressing considering the weather and the excitement,” one fan said Monday night.
“We understand security and stuff. But there's thousands of -- you can't get in and it's getting ridiculous,” said one couple waiting to get into the game.
Last week, Hancock told FOX 5’S Morse Diggs about why a main gate was used when the stadium has special VIP entry points.
“Because of the needs of the motorcade, that one particular VIP gate wasn't appropriate. The Secret Service people are very professional. They were good to work with. But there were some curveballs we did not anticipate,” Hancock said. “Just, I'm very sorry. When you have a presidential visit, security trumps everything so to speak.”
Now, the interesting thing is the way security and access are handled at the stadium depends on the event. This event was put on by the College Football Playoff Committee, so their procedures may differ from an NFL game or a Super Bowl game. But other event organizers will likely study and learn from the National Championship game.
However, Hancock reiterates that when the White House intervenes, the decision about the gate was taken out of the CFP’s hands.