News reports this AM are saying that Arthur Blank has been approached by business interests in Los Angeles to move the Falcons to L.A. This is clearly a move to help get the City of Atlanta to fund a new stadium.
Jokingly, I said after the Falcons lost to the 49ers that after UGA lost in similar fashion that they should burn the place down. But seriously, the City of Atlanta needs another stadium, much less a $1B stadium, like I need another holoe in my head. This whole thing is stupid. The lack of a stadium is not keeping fans away. What keeps fans away is a bad prdocut on the field. Atlanta ranked 11th in 2012 in fan attendance. But, the difference between 11th and 6th is about 3,000 fans a game. Not that much. Atlanta Falcons fans came to the Georgia Dome to see the Dirty Birds at a rate more than fans in Pittsburgh, New England, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Seattle.
The average attendance for Falcons’ games this season was 70,096. However, the seating capacity for the Georgia Dome is 71,228. The Dome was 98% full this season. It doesn’t matter what the stadium looks like, or where it is at; fans will come as long as the product is good.
There is something that could shoot holes in my argument, though. Let’s look at the lean years for the Falcons since Mr. Blank took over. Let’s look at 2007. The Falcons averaged 68,395 per home game. This was good for 15th in the NFL…about middle of the pack. So you are playing in, by your own admission, a crappy stadium (if it is crappy in 2011 and 2012 it was crappy in 2007). And the team is playing like crap. You are missing your star player in Michael Vick. Yet fans still came to the games.
The state of Georgia is great. We have many opportunities for us that other states in the southeast would kill for. But our great state has signifigant challenges, and shouldn’t have to subsidize billionares who want a new stadium at the expense of taxpayers. If adding a new stadium would create exponentially new jobs or bring in new revenues, then maybe. But just becuase Arthur Blank wants one? When our state can hardly pay the light bills, much less fund other special projects across the state that are worthwhile, how can anyone think giving the Falcons a new stadium is a good idea?
If Arthur Blank is going to play chicken with us, I say to hell with him and his franchise. If the Falcons want to leave, Delta sells one way tickets to LAX.
Attendance figures from here.