SBD/April 16, 2013/Facilities

Falcons Owner Arthur Blank Discusses Details Around The Team's New Stadium

Blank said the Falcons did not seriously consider a suburban stadium
Falcons Owner Arthur Blank said there was “never a doubt we’d be in a new stadium in 2017,” but the “question was where,” according to Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. Blank said, “There’s still a question as to whether it will be south or north (of the Georgia Dome). Our preference is for the south site, along with everybody else’s, but we’d be happy going (1/2 mile) north if we can’t end up facilitating the real-estate purchases necessary for the south.” Blank addressed several other issues surrounding the new stadium. Excerpts of the Q&A follow:

Q: When you envision the stadium, what do you see?
Blank: I’m going into the design process very open-minded. I want to see a design that reflects the history of Atlanta, the traditions of Atlanta, the best of Atlanta and our visions for the future. What it looks like, I’m not sure.

Q: When will the Falcons start selling personal seat licenses for the right to buy season tickets in the new stadium?
Blank: We’ll have a PSL program. We don’t know what it’s going to look like yet. We’ll be working on that probably in the next three to six months. Expect it to be a much more modest program than some other franchises have done.

Q: Has it surprised or disappointed you that the public’s view of the project has been largely unfavorable?
Blank: I think, to be fair, it’s a relatively complex agreement. I think the reason it got the overwhelming votes it did from the Congress Center and eventually the City Council and Invest Atlanta was all because they understood the deal. So if we had the time to get in front of 11 million people one at a time and explain it to them in a way that we could have done effectively, I think the views would have been very different than what the general populace’s was.

Q: Was building the stadium in the suburbs a real possibility?
Blank: That was always an option, but it was not an option we considered seriously (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 4/14).

MIGHT I SUGGEST...: In a special to the ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE, selling and communication firm Speechworks President Joey Asher reports “five world-class design teams have already been selected to give presentations for the chance to win the prize” to design the stadium. Such presentations are called “bake offs.” But “bake off” participants “often misjudge the goal of the presentations and undermine their chances of winning.” The goal “isn’t to show that you’re the best,” but rather to show “that you will be the best partner.” To that end, the winning firms “separate themselves by focusing on five areas.” Those areas are presenting solutions to the owner’s hot button issues and nothing else, simplicity, personal likability, nailing the Q&A and practice (ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE, 4/12 issue).

SHOW ME THE MONEY: SI.com’s Peter King wrote the Falcons “won $200 million in government support for a new retractable-roof downtown stadium because they showed the suits the money -- $800 million of it from" Blank and other non-taxpayer sources. Blank indicated that he will “still probably have PSL seating in the new stadium, with user fees helping defray his investment” (SI.com, 4/15).
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