Preparations underway for big National Championship weekend in Atlanta

ATLANTA — Excitement is building in Atlanta ahead of the College Football Playoff National Championship next week.

The Georgia Bulldogs will face the Alabama Crimson Tide Monday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Even if you don't have a ticket, there will be lots of fun and exciting things to do in the days leading up the big game.

Three days of star-studded performances will take place during the championship weekend. The free events will feature a variety of national recording artists, firework shows and sponsor giveaways. Performances by Jason Derulo and Charlie Puth will kick off the event on Saturday night, along with special guest Lizzo.

Kendrick Lamar will perform a free show during halftime of the game.

Organizers recommend arriving early because only about 20,000 people will be allowed inside.

There will be a fan tailgate at the Georgia World Congress Center. You will need to buy a ticket for that event.

“(It’s) a 300,000-square-foot college football theme park,” an event organizer said.

Atlanta will be the fourth city to host the new College Football Playoff National Championship.

Dan Corso, president of the Atlanta Sports Council and head of the host committee that helped bring the game here, said the impact is huge.

“It’s been north of $100 million in each of those markets,” he said.

Huge crowds are expected for the game between Georgia and Alabama because the two schools are close to Atlanta.

“Come down, have a great time. This is a time to showcase why Atlanta is the epicenter of college football,” Corso said.

Only clear bags will be allowed for all events during the weekend, including inside the stadium for the game.

Atlanta police will activate their joint operations center Friday morning and stay open 24 hours a day through Tuesday morning.

“Even before Vegas, APD folks here in Atlanta have been extremely security conscious of this because of the profile of the event,” event coordinator Jonathan Foucheaux said.

Right now, tickets for the game are shaping up to be the most expensive ever. The cheapest seats are more than $2,000. StubHub says demand for tickets is more than double what it was for last year’s title game.