Thursday, May 20, 2010

Falcons Want SECCG & Peach Bowl Out of Atlanta?


The Falcons organization wants a new stadium. Without a roof.

First of all, what? I mean, I know the Georgia Dome is more like the world's biggest tent, but I'm confused as to why they're building a new stadium in the first place.

And what about college football? Per Tony Barnhart:

If Atlanta is dumb enough to be a part of building an open air stadium without a retractable roof, then the champagne corks will start popping in Birmingham. Because you can bet that they’ll figure out a way to build a ball park to get the SEC championship football game to come back (the first two games were played in Birmingham in 1992 and 1993). And you can bet that New Orleans would be putting together a bid and sprucing up the Superdome.

OK wait a minnit. There is usually only one SEC game played indoors in any given year: the SECCG. In the Georgia Dome. SEC fans will watch games outside with no problem. There's as much chance that Atlanta in December will be 70 and sunny as it will be blowing snow and sleet. That's why we live in the South.

But the idea that Birmingham will get it together to build its own domed stadium based on one absent from the ATL is folly. Maybe they might if they had a chance to land an NFL franchise, but that ain't happening. Maybe if Alabama didn't just bump Bryant-Denny's capacity to over 100,000. And if the choice is outdoors in Birmingham vs. outdoors in Atlanta, the game stays in Atlanta.

Though this leaves the only domed stadium in the South in New Orleans, and as much fun as it would be to host an SECCG in the Crescent City, it just wouldn't work as well as hosting the game in Atlanta. (It would work, especially the first year, but not as well as the current setup.)

Stop your hate, there are real reasons.

Atlanta is a megalopolis with thousands upon thousands of alumni from all SEC schools living in the metro area. The majority of SEC schools are within easy driving distance from Atlanta (the only real outliers being LSU, Arkansas and Kentucky). Finally, hosting the SECCG is one of the highlight events for Atlanta's year, and it shows. This is the biggest reason the SECCG is such a success based on location. It would not matter if the SECCG were held outside in December, it will sell out.

New Orleans is a destination city that requires hours of driving from any schools not named LSU, or a plane ticket. An SECCG would be a big event, but there are a lot of big events in NOLA. There's also the Sugar Bowl issue. One participant of the SECCG usually ends up in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. It is not a good idea to have your championship game in the same stadium where your bowl game is played, especially when that stadium is far away from the main population center of your fanbase (please see also: ACC).

So, I don't see the the SECCG moving locations any time soon, the stadium's roof or lack thereof will not be a factor. The Peach Bowl will still sell out as well, and the Sugar Bowl will continue to be the SEC tie-in to the BCS.

The only thing the roof will affect is college basketball and Super Bowl hosting. But if Atlanta wants to make it easier on NOLA to host future Super Bowls, y'all go right ahead.


1 comment:

Dante said...

Weren't the two Birmingham SECCGs open air?

Tony Barnhart wraps way too many words around the real answer about the retractable roof: "I’m just assuming that Rich McKay said a retractable roof would be too costly because he and the Falcons want the city to pick up a larger portion of the tab on the stadium. Hey, that’s business. But Atlanta can’t go for that bait or the city has to realize that the cost is worth it. It can’t be short-sighted."

That's it. That's all there is to it. I think in the end Atlanta will realize that they need that retractable roof more than the Falcons need it. I don't think Atlanta will front the entire cost, but they'll pay more than half in the end.

But to answer another question raised by Pat: "I'm confused as to why they're building a new stadium in the first place."

Barnhart should know this one. I'm surprised he never addresses it. In the NFL's current profit-sharing agreement, ticket sales are divided evenly among the franchises with one exception: luxury boxes. Look at the number of luxury boxes on the other stadiums Barnhart mentions. They're massive, and the teams keep ALL of the money they make off of them.

Atlanta may not have the NFL presence of Dallas or Philadelphia, but they more than enough big business here to sell off just as many luxury boxes and that would be a huge boon to the Falcons franchise.