March, May & June are (in my opinion) the “in between months” for we novice football analysts and NFL journalists. As result, we have to dig a bit deeper into our literary repertoire to amuse ourselves….. This next effort is no exception….. LOL
I read an article on Yahoo today saying the Atlanta Falcons are making plans to construct a new stadium in the coming years. As I read it, a part of me was somewhat shocked, while the other almost expected it. Is this yet another sign of the doomed future of the domed stadium?
The Georgia Dome celebrated its 17th birthday in 2009 and the Falcons are announcing they’re no longer happy with it? WHY? That’s relatively young for a stadium. This is a facility that has successfully held numerous events of significant proportion, including Super Bowls 28 and 34 as well as numerous Olympic events in 1996. It is still considered a state of the art athletic facility and one of the few that has door to door accessibility by public rail system. I could list the resume of this facility but the goal of this paragraph is to say it’s far from out-dated or no longer useful!
The Falcons are proposing….. You guessed it, an open-air stadium with its own unique character. This endeavor will cost SOMEBODY between 450 and 500 million dollars. Spending this money seems "frivolous" considering it’s not a “need”. BUT IS IT?
Since the early 90s, domed stadiums have been dropping like flies unless of course we’re talking about ones with retractable roofs. The idea of a stadium with an affixed roof was the big rage of the 70s. They popped up all over the place. Cities like Houston, Seattle, Indy, Minneapolis, Detroit, New Orleans, and then both St Louis and Atlanta in the 90s all brought forward their version of the “dome”. At this point in time, most of these facilities have been replaced and demolished… OR… they’re merely being “tolerated” by their current tenants who hope for something better. WHY IS THIS? The following is my take on the subject:
While many may say the biggest issue comes down to the romance of the “open air”. I say that is but a microcosm of a bigger picture. In my opinion, American sports fans love their spectator venues to have “CHARACTER”. It doesn’t matter if their 100 years old or 10 years old. We have fallen back in love with the experience as opposed to solely what our home team does on the field. The venues have become somewhat of a living, breathing extension of a franchise. While domed stadiums are falling like dominos, I submit the days of any stadium with too many run of the mill, vanilla characteristics are numbered. Americans are addicted to the feeling they get sitting in that seat. And the average dome is, by nature, VOID OF CHARACTER! Sports fans can overlook a number of flaws in its big venues….. Unique character (that typifies the spirit of the city) is no longer one of them! Allow me to expand a bit more.
While domed stadiums have been hit hard, I’d like to add others to the list of “scrapped stadiums”….. All of which had several good years in them save for the fact they were unpleasing when compared to many others with “personality”. The Vet (Philly), RFK (Wash D.C.), Riverfront (Cincy) and Three Rivers (Pitts) were affectionately considered “cookie cutters” and void of that “homey feeling” we have come to love with our sports cathedrals. I would have added Sullivan to that list, but it was one of the few venues consistently thought of as a “piece of
shi…JUNK”…… and had no useful years left in it.
Folks, there’s nothing like walking the concourse, finding your section, and then walking up the tunnel into the open air. The site of that grass and the grandeur of that sports cathedral make me feel like the angels are singing in my head for those first 20 seconds of that view. The folks of Atlanta are jealous…. and want that too!
Do they “need” a new stadium? I think NOT! Are they in for a big fight with politicians over funding issues? YUP! If I were an Atlanta fan, would I support something so frivolous? You betch yer A$$ I would!!!! I can’t blame them.
I welcome your thoughts.