Adam Cohen had a plan all mapped out in hopes of avoiding the long lines at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Monday night.
Take MARTA to the Vine City station, across the street from Gate 1. Good idea, but Gate 1 was closed to accommodate President Donald Trump’s arrival at the National College Football Playoff Championship game betweenn Georgia and Alabama.
So he was directed into the human wall that formed on the opposite side of the stadium. Two hours later, with game time rapidly approaching, he was still waiting.
“I don’t know what the problem is,” said Cohen, 33, as 8 p.m. drew near. “Between the electronic ticketing system and the president it’s just devastating.”
Jane Fox waited 80 minutes in a line that wasn’t moving before deciding she’d try her luck in another.
“There’s been no organization at all,” said Fox, 31. “I just picked a line.”
Others were much luckier. If your point of entry was closer to the Georgia World Congress Center, the waits were considerably more manageable.
“I’ve been here 10 minutes,” one fan admitted, sheepishly. Only a half-dozen people stood between her and entry into the stadium at about 7:30 p.m. She declined to give her name after hearing how long others had been waiting.
There were reports of fights between fans impatient with the long lines. Some frustrated ticket-holders even scrapped with law enforcement officers after Gate 1 was shut down in advance of the president’s arrival around 6 p.m.
Metal barricades were then brought in to keep the crowd at bay.
The lines were constant, no matter how early fans arrived. By 5:30 p.m., nearly three hours before game time, the wait to get into the stadium was running about an hour.
Then, fans were bit more sanguine about the protracted delays, even with a freezing rain enveloping the stadium plaza.
“If that’s the price of security then so be it,” said UGA fan Joshua Daniel, 33.
AJC reporter Stephen Deere contributed to this article.