Yeah, it was just a matter of time before this came up again.
Arthur Blank wants a new stadium. After all, the Georgia Dome is seventeen years old. That's 126 in professional-sports-team-owner years. To them, stadiums should be replaced every fifteen like clockwork, to keep the paint from drying. We're falling behind here in Atlanta.
But Mr. Blank is willing to wait until the Dome is at least 24 or 25 years old, because he's a nice guy. Until then, he's gonna start trying to talk us into partially financing the thing. He said that it would be paid for with private and public money.
He also said, "We want the right environment for our fans and for our sponsors," which makes no sense to me. I think he should just level with everyone and say, "We want to charge more money," because that's really what this is about. Claiming that "the Falcons are falling behind other teams in the NFL in terms of the experience for our fans," isn't fooling anyone, because the only "experience" fans want is for the team to "experience" winning.
Look, they're not building the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It's a football stadium, and no one goes to a football stadium to admire the scenery. If anyone has ever found themselves in the Dome and the word "ambiance" crossed their mind or they thought, "The feng shui in here is all wrong," then I guess the original designers slipped up when they didn't build an art museum. They thought they were supposed to build a football stadium.
Seriously and honestly, does anyone care about how much of culture the Dome has inside it, and if anyone does, is that reason enough to spend a billion dollars on a new stadium when there's absolutely nothing wrong with the current one? People don't even notice how much they're overpaying for beer once the game starts, so I know they don't care about the number of restaurants inside. It's hard to admire the atmosphere when John Abraham is shaving a few minutes off some poor quarterback's life.
That's a moment where everyone has to decide what's more interesting to look at, and I assure you, the "John Abraham" part is gonna win out every time.
The only one who cares about this is Arthur Blank, because like in all pro sports, the owners are in a contest with each other to see who can get the most money from taxpayers to fund their vanity projects. "We'll call it Arthurmania, complete with a statue depicting the time I beat Lowe's into submission."
They always give the same excuse: "The team needs this to remain competitive." Competitive with who? Where's the other Atlanta football team that's stealing the Falcons' business?
NFL Football doesn't have any competition, except from within it's own league. And seeing as how the closest team to here is four hours away, it's not like anything in their marketing strategy is gonna affect what happens to the Falcons. If the Panthers built a new stadium tomorrow, it's not like Falcons fans are gonna go, "You know what? I like the Panthers new stadium better. I'm gonna start going to watch games up there instead." It's the Georgia Dome, not Cheers. You don't have to worry about Gary's Olde Towne Tavern and their wacky promotions convincing Norm and Cliff to drink there instead.
So Mr. Blank also laid this one on (which is a new one by me): The Falcons need a new stadium "to help Atlanta maintain its image as a world-class city." He is really laying it on thick.
Is the Dome falling apart? It's not exactly brand new, but they just painted it, replaced seats and gave it some other fine tuning. But I don't see any toilets backing up when I go down there. There aren't any blocks falling out of the ceiling or a recurring electrical surge to deal with. It's in great shape. I'm supposed to feel bad because there isn't a 60 yard wide HDTV in the center? No marble countertops in the bathrooms? Look, I live in an apartment where I can actually hear my upstairs neighbors walking around. I'm hardly sympathetic to their plight.
Texas Stadium will be 39 years old at the time of demolition, built during a time when we still believed our political leaders were honest. That's how old that stadium is, old enough to remember our nation's naivete. And yet, they stuck with it for 39 years. The Dome was built in 1992 and they're already proclaiming it "old?" The kids born that year are still in high school.
Really, if you're so worried about Atlanta's "image as a world-class city," Mr. Blank, you might want to try working on our sprawl and traffic problems. Build some high-rises down town or help fund MARTA. I don't think that the Georgia Dome is keeping Atlanta from embracing its metropolitan destiny.
Come on, Mr. Blank. Quit trying to be like the other owners. The Falcons play 10 games in the Dome a year. They don't live in the catacombs. They don't even practice there. I could at least respect your motivations if they were honest, but they aren't. You're trying to pull the wool over our eyes. There's no rush to replace the Dome. It's sturdy and it's in a central location. It's clean and it's not a deathtrap. That's all we really need in a football stadium. All you need to focus on is keeping winning team on the field. If you want to provide a grandiose spectacle as a monument to your own greatness (like the JerryWorld Domed Pleasure Palace), then build a casino instead.