Keeping Up With the (Jerry) Jones

georgia dome
It looks like the good people of Atlanta are going to be on the receiving end, whether they want it or not, of a new stadium which will be replacing the Georgia Dome.

The price tag for the new sports venue will come in at around $1 billion (that’s with a B).  The plan is for the Atlanta Falcons to cover $700 million of the costs with the rest coming from a new hotel-motel tax which purportedly will impact only non-Georgians.  One would have to assume that residents of the Peach State never stay in hotels or motels when traveling overnight.

The party line states that there will be no financial impact on the residents of the greater metropolitan area or the fans of the Atlanta Falcons.  That might seem plausible until you remember that if you patronize the stadium it will cost you something like $20 to park your car, $8.00 for a beer, $7.50 for a Coke, and $8.00 for a hotdog (without chili).  Don’t even ask what a ticket is going to cost.

It’s also being slowly leaked out that season ticket holders will be assessed a “seat license fee” which apparently will grant the payor the right to then purchase a season ticket from the payee.  “Hiya, hiya!  Step right up!  You pays your money.  You takes your chances!

At a recent news conference at which plans for the new stadium were discussed, Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons, had the audacity to say (out of the right side of his mouth), “We don’t need a building to play in next Sunday . . . The Georgia Dome is a good building. We love playing in it.  (Falcons coach) Mike Smith has an incredible record in it.

Out of the left side of his mouth he must have been mumbling something along the line of, “Gotta have it!  Gotta have it!

Did I mention, that I’ve been unable to find anyone who roughly meets the description of the “common man” who desires, much less believes that there is a need for, a new stadium in Atlanta?  I’m still looking.
insde dome
As a sports photographer, I’ve covered many events at the Dome.  The Dome has just turned 20 years of age and I’ve got to tell you, it’s a beautiful stadium; well maintained, offering every amenity that the discriminating sports fan, athlete, and member of the working media could desire.  But apparently, it’s got to go!

I can’t help wondering to myself why Atlanta needs a new stadium.  Is there a desire to relocate the stadium out of the downtown area, placing it in the suburbs where presumably it will be more accessible?  Apparently not, the word on the street is that the new artifice will be located just south of the current Dome’s location.

One explanation may be that Roger Goodell and the NFL patriarchs have let it be known that the Georgia Dome will no longer be considered as the location for future Super Bowls.  Why?  The upcoming Super Bowl is going to be played in New Orlean’s Super Dome which is over twice as old as the Georgia Dome.

Relative sizes - NFL Stadium Jumbotrons

Relative sizes – NFL Stadium Jumbotrons

No, I think the true explanation is much simpler.  As Mark Bradly, Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports writer put it, “…. in sports as in life, new and shiny trumps tried and true.

Imagine the angst that rends the hearts and souls of billionaire owners and millionaire players as they walk into new stadiums like the monstrosity which recently opened in Dallas, an architectural testimony to the massive ego of Dallas Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones.

Gee, our Jumbo-tron’s not nearly as big as Jerry’s.  We need a new one!  And he’s got a retractable roof too!

Make no mistake about it, size does matter.