ATLANTA (AP) Fans arrived early for the first national football title game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, then faced long lines, interminable waits and chilly rain to get into watch Alabama face Georgia.
Security was certainly increased because of President Donald Trump’s visit to $1.5 billion arena. But that wasn’t a satisfactory excuse for several rushing through the doors trying to get to their seats in time for kick off, shaking rain water off their clothes.
”It took us an hour and half to get in,” said John Slayton, a Georgia fan from Morrow. ”That shouldn’t ever happen.”
Slayton and his friends had planned to get here a couple of hours early to enjoy the new stadium and connect with fellow Georgia fans. Instead, they entered the stadium around 8 p.m., about 20 minutes before kickoff.
There were some fans not that lucky. They were still outside trying to get in as Slayton headed to his seat.
Trump walked onto the field to mostly cheers at the sold-out stadium. He was flanked by cadets and stood in a semi-circle around the Zac Brown Band, whose members sang the national anthem. When it was done, the field lights were turned off as Trump walked out of the tunnel and up to his skybox.
That may not have appeased Stewart Johnson, a Georgia from Alpharetta, who angrily vented to a stadium usher before heading up the escalator to his seat.
”I don’t know if it’s the Secret Service. I don’t know if it was Trump,” he said. ”That was the worst experience of my life. They were not prepared. Zero communication. Zero communication.”
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