Atlanta rolls out the blue carpet.

By Luke Glaser

Atlanta lies 380 miles from UK.

This weekend, that number may be reduced to zero.

With the Cats playing in the Sweet 16, the Big Blue Nation is expected to arrive in droves to support their team.

Michael Brown, president of the Greater Atlanta University of Kentucky Alumni Club, is ready for them.

“Everyone’s invited to Catlanta,” Brown said in an email to the Kernel. “We have a couple things going on this coming weekend.”

Events in “Catlanta” include a pep rally and an official UK headquarters. The pep rally is going to be held in the Georgia World Congress Center, Building C, four hours before the tipoff of the first game. Brown said to arrive by three p.m.

“Alumni and fans will enjoy the opportunity to purchase UK merchandise, music and d.j., face painting, giveaways and an appearance by the UK band” at the pep rally, according to a press release.

The cost of the pep rally will be $10 at the door and $5 for UK Alumni association members.

And the rally is only the beginning.

“Our ‘official’ UK headquarters for the weekend is STATS,” Browns said.

STATS restaurant and bar is located at 300 Marietta Blvd., only a few blocks from the Georgia Dome.

Visitors be wary, downtown Atlanta will be playing host to more than college basketball on Friday evening.

The Atlanta Hawks have a home game that begins at 7:30 p.m., and the Georgia World Congress Center, where the pep rally will be, is also playing host to one of the largest dental conventions in the southeast. More than 15,000 people are expected to be in attendance.

Jason Kirksey, Communications and PR Specialist with the Georgia Dome, offered some inner-city traveling and parking advice.

“If at all possible take the MARTA (Atlanta’s subway system) to and from the Georgia Dome,” Kirskey said in an email to the Kernel.
“Many MARTA stations offer free parking lots and there are two stations that serve the Georgia Dome.”

Kirskey also recommended purchasing parking spots in advance on gadome.com

For those unwilling to brave the traffic, Stout Irish Pub, located in the Atlanta suburb of Buckhead, is hosting a party for UK alumni and fans.

Stout is the usual gathering place of UK alumni for games and other events, and is located at 56 E. Andrews Drive.

Before participating in the festivities, though, students face the difficult task of getting to Atlanta.

According to AAA, the average price of fuel in the southeast region of the United States is $3.74 a gallon.

Filling up in Lexington will cost around $3.85 a gallon, and leaving Atlanta will cost around $3.88 a gallon.

According to the AAA fuel cost calculator, driving the average sedan will cost $120 round trip. The more spacious SUV will ring in at around $160.

Not that fuel prices will be stopping fans from making the trip.

“Looking forward to turning downtown Atlanta blue,” Brown said.