Having fun on a small sum

The Atlanta Classic weekend is always an itinerary-packed event for students, alumni and Atlantans.

Celebrating its 20th year, the Annual Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic always delivers great football along with a halftime worth staying in your seats.

But with the weekend’s cookouts, shopping at Lenox Square and the pre-game and after-game parties, the Classic can be rather expensive.

“It’s easy to blow $500 for the Atlanta Classic,” said Gianna Hargrove, 22, a senior biology student from Columbus, Ohio.

“By the time you pay for a downtown hotel, gas to and around Atlanta, food, shopping and the ridiculous club prices you’re at $500, easy.”

Gregory Woodall, 22, a senior physics student from Atlanta understands the deep cut that the Classic can have on students’ budget.

He said the Student Government Association offers packages to away games for students to enjoy events at a low price.

Woodall said the package for the Atlanta Classic was $70, which included travel, a two-night stay at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis and a game ticket.

“Unfortunately, the packages ran out about two weeks ago,” said Woodall, the Chief of Staff for the executive branch of SGA.

So what are the other options for students who want to keep their accounts from over-drafting?

First vice president of the Atlanta Club, Alexis Cadwell, suggested carpooling. “I think if students catch rides with friends from Atlanta that could save gas as well as staying with them for the weekend,” said the 23-year-old psychology senior.

Joe “Joey Digital” Womack, 29, a 2003 Masters in Business Administration graduate and CEO of digitalguestlist.com has a few tips for students going to Atlanta on a budget:

1. The keys to having a good time on a budget during the Atlanta Classic are connections and timeliness.

2. Being in the know also allows you to use “back streets” to avoid traffic and find available parking lots and thus save time.

3. Do not take your sweet time prepping for the events. As the evening progresses, traffic swells and the door price begins to increase dramatically. Prepare a schedule, build in an extra hour of for “CP” time, and stick to it.

4. Even if the party says, “free before XXpm,” they won’t actually let you in free.

5. When you see a gas station that has gas, stop there because you may not find another one with gas for a long time.   

Digitalguestlist.com, which is no stranger to Tallahassee, is hosting a party at The Loft in Midtown Atlanta after the game.

“Our events will give students who are over 21 the chance to experience high-quality Atlanta entertainment specifically catered to those individuals from FAMU,” Womack said. 

“These events act as an “Atlanta Homecoming” for FAMU. They are truly the best of both worlds – students will get to see old friends and those students who graduated and had a profound influence on the FAMU student body.”

Womack said some of the profits made from the party will go back to the university for scholarships for future and current students.

As students and visitors prepare for a weekend of fun, students should remember to make a budget before they leave and plan ahead to avoid the announcement of a declined credit card or negative balance.

“Even though I spent a lot of money, it’s an event that I think every student should attend,” said Hargrove. “It’s amazing to see Rattlers young and old come together for an event to support HBCUs.”