ATLANTA — The party has already started in Atlanta.
At least if you’re a West Virginia University football fan.
On Saturday, the Mountaineers will meet No. 2 Alabama here in the Georgia Dome. The Mountaineers are heavy underdogs in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game, which will be televised on ABC at 3:30 p.m.
Yet that hasn’t stopped many West Virginia fans from enjoying themselves. A few hit the Georgia Dome early for Thursday’s first Kickoff game between Ole Miss and Boise State. More, though, started the season with a Thursday night event at Laseter’s Tavern, which provided food and drink specials and a two-piece band called “Wes and Lance,” a favorite of in-Atlanta Mountaineer fans. The tavern is located just a couple miles from the Renaissance Waverly, WVU’s team hotel.
Laseter’s has become known as the foremost Mountaineer bar in Atlanta.
“We’re excited for the season, ready to shock the nation,” said Steve Ware, an Atlanta resident who grew up in Charleston “People say I’m crazy, but we’re going 9-3.”
In the preseason media poll, the Mountaineers were picked eighth in the 10-team Big 12 Conference. Alabama is ranked second in the nation in the major college football preseason polls.
“[Saturday] afternoon could be one of the greatest upsets in college football,” said Mickey Plumley, a Mount Hope native who played on WVU’s 1969 Peach Bowl-winning team.
St. Albans native Alison Garland said she was at the 2006 Sugar Bowl in Atlanta, when WVU upset heavily favored Georgia. “We have a good record in the [Georgia] Dome,” said Garland, who said she was “super excited” for Saturday’s game.
On Friday, a bigger party is expected as more WVU fans file into town. Organizers here are calling their setup “The Party of the Year.” It’s a gathering at the Park Tavern that gets fans a full open bar, multiple food stations, which will be serving a wide variety of treats, as well as the sounds of party band “Haywire.” Park Tavern is generally considered the best party venue in Atlanta.
Bill Toothman, one of the organizers, said WVU has access to the entire Park Tavern facility for that shindig, both inside and out. He also said the Mountaineer Marching Band will be there.
“The response has picked up dramatically in the last couple of weeks,” Toothman said. “We’ll have around 3,000 fans between the events. It’s a party…