Falcons open new stadium, fans goggle at giant video board and giant ticket prices

The Atlanta Falcons opened their new $1.6 billion stadium (nearly half of which will end up being paid for by taxpayers) for a preseason game on Saturday, and aside from the retractable roof not retracting yet and long lines at concessions stands (the latter of which is typical for opening-night growing pains, anyway), fans were reportedly awed by the sight. Things they were particularly awed by, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

  • The roof may not open on its own yet, but it is “dramatic, stunning and unique.”
  • There’s a ring-shaped “halo board” suspended from the roof that “measures 58 feet tall and is 1,100 feet around,” which is … big!
  • The seats are wider.
  • There’s free Wi-Fi.
  • There are affordable food options, including $2 hot dogs, water, and sodas (with free refills!).
  • Ticket prices on the secondary market are up 91%, to an average of a whopping $441.

Okay, that last one isn’t actually awesome in the awesome sense. And it’s not directly related to ticket-price greed by Falcons owner Arthur Blank, since the secondary market is the wild west, where prices soar and dip based on how desperate fans are to get inside the place, and right now you can imagine the curiosity factor is sky high. If there’s one reason to blame Blank, it’s that seats at the new stadium are only available to season ticket holders who purchase personal seat licenses, meaning there’s no way to buy individual game tickets — though that alone wouldn’t let ticket holders to get $441 a pop on the resale market if demand weren’t there.

As with the roof and the concessions lines, it’s probably best to give the new Falcons stadium a few weeks or months to see how it works out the kinks in terms of ticket pricing. The damn thing is costing Georgians enough money, it’d be nice if they got a cool place to watch football out of the deal, at least for those wealthy enough to get in the gates.

11 comments on “Falcons open new stadium, fans goggle at giant video board and giant ticket prices

  1. You’ve got some fake news here, Neil. The public is not paying anywhere close to 50% of this stadium’s cost.

    The public is paying $200 million towards stadium construction. Who knows what the real stadium construction cost is, but it’s a heck of a lot more than $400 million.

    The public pays its $200 million by getting 39% of a local tourist tax. Proceeds from that 39% goes to the public entity that owns and operates the stadium. AFTER stadium construction bonds are paid off, the stadium owner/operator continues to get its 39% of the tourist tax, and that money will be used for stadium maintenance.

    The argument that the public will end up paying 50% of stadium maintenance costs is not nearly as weak as the stadium construction cost argument, but it is still very, very weak. It’ll take about 15 years to pay off the construction bonds, so the Falcons are paying for 100% of maintenance costs for those 15 years. Once the bonds are paid off, the 39% of the tourist tax goes towards stadium maintenance, but it is unlikely to cover full maintenance costs. (As of today, maintenance costs for modern NFL stadiums are higher than 39% of what Atlanta’s tourist tax is bringing in.) Money today is worth more than money in 15 years. Therefore, the only way that the public will pay 50% of stadium maintenance costs is if tourist tax collections explode to unforseeable levels (thus allowing the stadium to be paid off a half-decade or so early) and if annual maintenance costs for NFL stadiums fall to the point that 39% of Atlanta’s tourist tax fully covers annual maintenance.

    To summarize, the public isn’t paying close to 50% of stadium construction costs and the public is extremely unlikely to end up paying 50% of stadium maintenance costs.

    • Ben, if you truly believe that getting $500m for “maintenance and operations” costs is different to Arthur Blank’s bottom line than getting $500m labeled “construction debt,” then I’ve got maintenance costs on a bridge to sell you.

      • I’m saying Blank’s contribution to maintenance will greatly exceed the tourist tax’s contribution to maintenance by a wide margin, in present day value.

      • And even you can’t deny that Blank’s contribution to construction costs will greatly exceed the tourist tax’s, by an even greater margin.

        • Spending money to maintain his own stadium isn’t a *contribution*, Ben. He’s built a $1.6b stadium, and is getting $700m in cash (present value) from the city and state to help with that. It really doesn’t matter to him what they write in the memo fields on the checks.

  2. And who playing for the new hi way exit signs? I never thought about that cost

  3. Why did this cost a billion dollars when CenturyLink adjusted for inflation is around half a billion?

    I don’t get it…..is it more expensive to build in Atlanta compared to Seattle?

    • State-of-the-art roofs that have to be hand-cranked into place don’t pay for themselves!

  4. They made the seats wider, but now there are free soda refills.

    Sounds like the stadium will be obsolete in ten years, as the fans once again become too fat to fit comfortably.

  5. I don’t care what anyone says. From Six Flags it looks like a giant bedpan, and from an aerial drone it looks like a giant sphincter.