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Volume 21 No. 2
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Plugged In: Rich McKay

Atlanta Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay talks about premium seating and stadium infrastructure, the reason that transportation matters, and why the in-game experience will always be important.

Who are you going to hug and brag about five years from now when that one special moment happens and you were surrounded by 60,000 people who come from all different walks of life? But you share one thing, and that’s your love for the team. Nobody can brag about being in their basement with a couple buddies and the home run was hit or the fumble was recovered. It’s sort of a tribal thing, and you can only do that when you’re all together.

Preparing for the future:
We have to make sure that we put enough cap excess in the future to deal with issues not just renovating and changing seats or changing the scoreboard, but evolving technology. That’s something when I was in the Tampa stadium experience [as Bucs general manager] that we didn’t do, and I felt that that was a big thing that we left on the table. … You better have some reserves for your building to deal with those changes because the customer is going to expect it.

Big-city issues: The experience starts when you leave the house, and we don’t control some of that. We need to kind of control more of it and make sure that we’re always paying attention to it, whether it’s public transportation and when they take that ride what experience are they having in that ride. We need to be responsible for that because, ultimately, they are going to hold us responsible for that. We kind of take the driveway-to-driveway look. Our fans expect a lot.

The wall between team personnel and business: I’m sure it still exists in certain places, but it has changed dramatically. I think coaches realize that if you’re going to make $6 million a year or $5 million a year as a coach, part of the reason is the sponsorship that they sold to drive the revenue. Part of the reason is the operations that go behind it. If you’re going to have players and you’re going to venture into free agency, the reason is the people that generate the revenue. I think everybody has gotten a little more sense of, We’re all in it together. We’re not compartmentalized, where it’s us, and you guys are just helping.

Story he’s watching: What is the future and what are the changes that are coming in our whole premium business? Is it less suites? Is it more suites? Is it more club seats? Less? What is that model? Clearly all of us are under a little bit of a challenge with respect to that. I’m very interested to see how that plays out as we continue to go down our new stadium path.