I have to have this talk with my kids about wants vs. needs all the time. We “need” something when it really means we want it. Adults aren’t any better, though. So it goes with Arthur Blank and the Atlanta Falcons, as the discussion in Atlanta has now turned to a retractable roof stadium, and demolishing the Georgia Dome.
The Falcons want a new stadium because they feel the Dome, which opened in 1992, does not offer the premium seating and other amenities that drive revenue in more recent NFL stadiums.
Jeff Schultz, columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is not happy about the potential for a substantial amount of public money being spent because Arthur Blank wants to make more money. He writes a powerful piece “Falcons Can Have New Building . . . As Long As They Pay For It.” It’s understandable, considering this stadium has not been around long enough for Schultz to forget a story he penned about the old Fulton County Stadium as it prepared for one final season back in 1991. Then, the dome had “NFL officials concurring that the Georgia Dome is the most state-of-the-art football stadium in the nation.” [“Atlanta Set To Open The New Georgia Dome”, July 31, 1992, PR Newswire]. That was less than 20 years ago.
Now, though, everyone is getting a new stadium. By my count, well over half the league’s teams are playing in a stadium newer than the Georgia Dome (21) another is on the way (San Francisco) and 3 others have undergone significant renovation projects (Chicago, Kansas City, Green Bay). Only 6 teams are playing in stadiums older than the Dome.
The owners “need” to make more money so they “want” new stadiums financed in large degree by the public. The Atlanta one is just a glaring case of a team wanting to make more money, and having the public pay for it. It’s also pretty wasteful for a stadium that is good enough to host plenty of events like the NCAA Tournament South Regional this year, or the SEC Championship Game. The public needs to start telling these billionaires “no”. If fans that purchase tickets want to pay increased prices, that’s one thing. To keep insisting on public money to pay for new toys to keep up with the (Jerry) Joneses is another.
[photo via US Presswire]