Falcons stadium to open three months late, cost even more than $1.4b projection

The Atlanta Falcons stadium slated to open next year is … under budget and ahead of schedule? Ha ha ha ha, guess again, foolish human:

Construction of the downtown stadium that will become home to the Atlanta Falcons and a new professional soccer team won’t be completed in time for a long-planned March 2017 opening.

The new target date for completion of Mercedes-Benz Stadium is June 1, 2017, Arthur Blank, owner of the Falcons and Major League Soccer team Atlanta United, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview Thursday…

He said the delay will add to the cost of the $1.4 billion project but declined to say how much. He said he’ll bear the additional cost, as required by his stadium deal with the city and state.

For the Falcons, this doesn’t mean much, as I am told that football is not played in April and May anyway. (This is why I think of those months as “The time I can safely watch Sportscenter.”) For Atlanta United, though, it’s going to be a mess, because that’s the first three months of the MLS season, meaning they’re going to face the choice between launching its first season at a temporary site, or going on a Yard Goats-esque road trip.

The AJC has also reported (last week, but I just noticed it) that the Falcons have only sold about 27,000 PSLs for their 71,000-seat stadium, which the agency handling PSL sales says is “right on line” with what they expected. Still, it does leave open the possibility that the Falcons could have to offer price cuts for the less-desirable seats — all those except the cheapest and priciest ones, which is about as you’d expect given our current economic structure — which could be interesting to anyone who cares about the future capacity of PSL sales to pay for stadiums. Which might just be me and NFL owners, but I’ll be watching this closely, anyway.

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15 comments on “Falcons stadium to open three months late, cost even more than $1.4b projection

  1. Neil,

    Even in a Socialist paradise like your beloved Sweden, ticket sales would be the same. It’s like anything else in life: some people flock to cheap shit, some are only willing to sample the best shit and in the middle there’s a struggle to find a market.

  2. Oh, sure. But having such a big split between the “money is no object” crowd and everybody else makes the donut hole that much more holey.

  3. MLS has had teams start the season with extended road shows before, I think KC did it when their stadium was was being finished.

  4. I hope they fall flat on their face trying to sell these PSLs. I would never pay that kind of money just for the right to buy something. It really is absurd. Someday people will wake up. Aw hope springs eternal that this league eventually is broken by its own greed

  5. It’s too bad there’s not a couple of other stadiums in Atlanta less than 30 years old they could play in temporarily.

  6. I look at this differently. Let’s congratulate the local government officials who deserve correctly-wrote-their-name-at-the-top-of-the-page minimum credit for making the team pay for cost overruns.

    And no pedestrian bridge, to boot!

  7. I don’t know, Ben–here’s a soccer club in known socialist paradise Germany (Bayern Munich, one of the more successful clubs). They have a club section that doesn’t do game by game sales, but even here, the most expensive seat in the house is about twice the cost of the cheapest seat (standing in the ends is even cheaper). With plenty in between. Sweden would likely be even cheaper! Nothing like the absurd ticket prices I’ve been “offered” by NFL teams for “elite” seats.


    That said, the southeast is really college football country and a lot of big money folks there spend their money “donating” to the “non-profit” enterprise that is NCAA football. Plus, if you do that, Auburn or Georgia Tech might name a locker or a weight bench after you.

  8. @Mark They could use the Georgia Dome, Bobby Dodd Stadium at Georgia Tech, or (if they can work around the Braves) Turner Field. Oh wait, that last one would possibly be out of business by then. Never mind.

  9. Cheapest to most expensive Flacons season ticket for 2015 was about 10x. Picked a decent Allsvenskan club (Mälmo) and for single game tickets ratio from cheapest to most expensive is 4.5x. And even that’s not apples-to-apples because the cheapest are a crap domestic Swedish league game and the most expensive are Champions League tickets.

    A better comparison would be to take Falcons secondary market for pre-season tickets (close to $0) and the face for their playoff tickets.

  10. Current cost projection is in the $1.6-1.7 Billion range. Keep in mind that the stadium was sold to the voters as a $900 Mil. proposition. That’s the new NFL tactic: low ball costs and once the other side is engaged with no possible escape then double them.

  11. Blank will have to cover those overruns, though, so at least there’s no added taxpayer cost. Though he has a $300m+ publicly funded slush fund for “improvements” that, even if he can’t find a way to tap it for this, will certainly ease the pain of the rising price tag.

  12. GDub,

    Europe’s tyrannical limitations on ticket sales and pricing have absolutely nothing to do with what a ticket market will bear.

  13. Ben,

    Could you describe what exactly it is you are talking/trolling about? Maybe provide a link to a description?

    Tyrannical limitations? Seriously?

  14. GDub: I think it might be something like this.

    US: Football is at least partially a public good, therefor taxpayers should pay to build the billion dollar stadia and the public authority should own it so the owners don’t have to pay any taxes, then we’ll let the owners keep all the revenue.

    Europe: Football is at least partially a public good, therefor we’ll make sure that tickets are generally affordable.

    That’s just a guess. I mean, but that’s f*cking textbook European tyranny and American free-marketism right there.

  15. I’d say, historically, part of the reason was that there was a full (or partial) tax write off of sports tickets bought by companies for entertainment purposes in the US, which made the idea of absurd seat prices possible.

    I don’t think that European teams are more altruistic–they try to fleece fans too. But even teams like Arsenal after they build their own stadium have to be conscious of what level of revenue they can get from the public to pay the construction costs and also field a good team. In general, soccer’s core audience for tickets are people who go every week, and for whatever reason they aren’t keen on paying $800 a ticket.

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