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Thousands expected for Falcons scrimmage at City Park
Parking with shuttle will be available at First Baptist on Green Street
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Kia Motors Friday Night Lights

What: Atlanta Falcons preseason scrimmage, along with a fan fest, interactive inflatable games, autograph session, fireworks
When: 6:45 p.m. Friday, with gates opening at 6 p.m.
Where: Bobby Gruhn Field at City Park Stadium, Gainesville
How much: Free

Some 8,000 to 12,000 fans are expected to converge Friday on City Park Stadium to watch the Atlanta Falcons take part in the Kia Motors Friday Night Lights scrimmage.

This is the sixth annual installment of the event, which brings the Falcons to a different Georgia high school football field for a scrimmage during their training camp. Gainesville High School has been working closely with the team to make sure the scrimmage goes off without a hitch.

The event includes a fan fest that will feature inflatable games and other children’s activities, autograph opportunities and a fireworks show after the scrimmage, which begins at 6:45 p.m.

Parking will be available at First Baptist Church on Green Street with a shuttle service provided by Gainesville High School to take fans to the scrimmage. Pregame tailgating will be allowed in the parking area.

Local vendors will supply food and the national anthem will be sung by a student from Gainesville High.

"The set up will be much like it is for a Gainesville Friday night game," said Roddy White, Falcons director of event marketing and client services. "Our hope is that the school will be able to raise a significant amount of money through concession sales."

As for the facilities at Bobby Gruhn Field, all that was needed was some minor resodding and a Falcons paint job, officials said.

"The field was in outstanding shape," White said. "David Presnell and his staff do such a great job with that field that they just had to do their normal maintenance."

In 2008, Falcons coach Mike Smith first decided to conduct a scrimmage at a local high school. The idea was to promote an event where local fans can see Falcons players in an up-close environment and the high school could earn some publicity. That year, the Falcons played the first Friday Night Lights at Mill Creek High School.

The event has reached maximum capacity every year, with attendance exceeding 13,000 people in some instances. This year marks the first year the team has ventured out of Gwinnett County for the scrimmage.

"We look for schools that have a good following, community support and natural grass on their fields," White said. "We did several site visits and decided that Gainesville was the best location for us."

With the expected 10,000 visitors, comes heavy traffic through the area. To cope with this, the Gainesville Police Department will have 28 officers on duty in various locations to provide assistance and direction.

"The Falcons do a great job of giving back to the community and to Gainesville High School," said public information officer Joe Britte. "If you ask me, I think it’s going to be an awesome event."

Gates will open at 6 p.m. at City Park Stadium and the Falcons take to the field at 6:45 p.m.

Gainesville police are encouraging everyone to get to the event as early as possible to avoid heavy traffic congestion.

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