Atlanta has five professional major league teams: the Braves, the Hawks, the Falcons, the Thrashers, and the Dream. Good tickets can be extremely hard to come by during a winning season, so plan in advance. Tickets can be obtained from the individual teams or through Ticketmaster (tel. 800/326-4000 or 404/249-6400; www.ticketmaster.com). Note that a service charge will be added to each ticket purchased through Ticketmaster.
From beginning to end, Atlanta Motor Speedway has race fans covered. Hosting two NASCAR Sprint Cup races a year -- one in early March and one on Labor Day weekend -- as well as NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events, this track in Hampton, 30 miles south of Atlanta, is where folks come to see the big boys run. The smart fans are those who come in a day early and camp or RV -- they get to avoid the traffic. The others aren't so lucky. Unreserved campsites are $60 during race week. Reserved camping for self-contained RVs is $100 to $150; hookups are available. If you don't want to wait for a free parking space for your car, $75 reserved vehicle parking is in the Champions Reserve Lot. Race tickets are usually available right up until the start of the race, and some are quite reasonably priced. Tours of the speedway are available through the gift shop. Call tel. 770/946-4211 or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com for more information.
Situated on 700 scenic wooded acres about 45 minutes north of downtown Atlanta, Road Atlanta is one of the Southeast's premier road-racing motor-sports facilities. Its 2.5-mile Grand Prix racecourse has a challenging combination of turns, elevation changes, and high-speed straightaways. A year-round season includes sports-car, motorcycle, truck, and vintage/historic racing, among other events. Call tel. 800/849-RACE (7223) or 770/967-6143, or go to www.roadatlanta.com, for information and a schedule of events. Tickets usually run $20 to $75, with higher prices for the Petit Le Mans, a 1,000-mile race. Infield parking is $5. Road Atlanta is located in Braselton on Georgia Hwy. 53 between I-85 and I-985 (take I-85 N. to exit 129, make a left, and follow the signs).
Although they've won the World Series only once in recent memory, in 1995, the Atlanta Braves consistently post a terrific record. The team plays in Turner Field, a stadium that was modified to function as a world-class ballpark after hosting the Centennial Olympic Games. The regular season runs from the first week of April until the first week of October; post-season play is over by the end of October.
Advance-purchase seats run from $6 (in the Upper Pavilion) to $56 (on the Dugout Level), and ticket availability is proportional to the team's success. Call customer service (tel. 404/522-7630) for more information, or visit the website at www.atlantabraves.com. You can charge tickets online or by phone through Ticketmaster (tel. 800/326-4000 or 404/249-6400; www.ticketmaster.com), or buy directly from the stadium box office, which is located at the northwest corner of the ballpark. It's open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 6pm, Saturday from 9am to 5pm, and Sunday from 1 to 5pm. Even if you can't get tickets in advance, it's sometimes possible to get $1 Skyline tickets (bleacher seats) and $5 standing-room-only tickets. Skyline tickets are available only on game day and go on sale 3 hours before game time. Fans are limited to one ticket per customer, and immediate entry to the ballpark is required. Standing-room-only tickets are sold only on game day and are available 1 hour before the first pitch, but only when all other tickets for the game have been sold. Check the designated ticket window in the main ticket area.
Foul Play -- Kudzu, a fast-growing vine that smothers anything and everything in its path, once stopped an Atlanta Braves baseball game. On August 29, 2000, in the ninth inning of a game between the Braves and the Cincinnati Reds, the lights abruptly went out at Turner Field. It seems that a kudzu vine had snaked around a critical terminal area, causing the 12-minute blackout. It was the first-ever kudzu delay in Major League Baseball. The Braves lost 4 to 2.
The Atlanta Hawks are the local NBA franchise, and their season runs from November to April. The Hawks play in Philips Arena, which was built downtown on the site of the old Omni Coliseum, adjacent to CNN Center. Tickets range from $10 for a nosebleed seat to $90 for something up close and personal. Call Ticketmaster (tel. 800/326-4000 or 404/249-6400; www.ticketmaster.com) or tel. 404/827-3865 for information.
New to Atlanta and to the WNBA since 2008, the fledgling Atlanta Dream is the local women's professional basketball franchise, with a season that runs from May to September. The Dream plays in Philips Arena, adjacent to CNN Center. Tickets range from $10 to $45 for regular seating areas and $53 to $212 courtside. Call tel. 404/604-2626 for information.
On the college front, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets play in the highly competitive Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Their season runs from mid-November to early March, and home games are played in Alexander Memorial Coliseum, on the campus at 10th and Fowler streets. Tickets range from $13 to $31, but they are often difficult to come by. Available tickets go on sale at the Coliseum on the day of the game. Call tel. 888/832-4849 or 404/894-5447 for information.
The Atlanta Falcons are the city's NFL franchise, playing eight games (plus exhibition games) each season in the Georgia Dome. Watching a game in the Dome is an interesting, noisy experience. The regular season begins in September and runs through December, with post-season games played in January. Pre-season games begin in August. Ticket prices are $62 to more than $189, depending on how close to the action you want to sit. For information, call tel. 404/249-6400, or visit www.atlantafalcons.com.
As for college football, the "Ramblin' Wrecks from Georgia Tech" have played their home games at 43,000-seat Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field, on campus at North Avenue and Techwood Drive, since 1913. The season runs from September to November. Call tel. 888/832-4849 or 404/894-5447 for information. Tickets are $25 and $40 and are usually available, except for home games against the University of Georgia, which are always sold out. Games are played on Thursday nights and Saturday afternoons. Parking is limited; taking MARTA to the North Avenue station is the best option. Go early and stop at the Varsity for a hamburger or a hot dog; it's on North Avenue between the MARTA station and the stadium.
The Atlanta Thrashers, an NHL team named after Georgia's state bird, take to the ice in Philips Arena, which was built downtown on the site of the old Omni Coliseum. The season runs from October through April, and tickets run from $14 to $263. Call tel. 404/878-3000, or visit www.atlantathrashers.com for information. Take MARTA to Omni/Dome/GWCC.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.