In Braves and Falcons stadium battle, Blank’s tank is stuck at start line

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, future home of the Falcons and Atlanta United, sits next to the Georgia Dome. This aerial photo was taken March 31. (Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com)

Do you know what probably bothers Arthur Blank more than anything? This is a construction project. It’s a construction project overseen by the man who co-founded The Home Depot. I mean, if Blank had made his billions selling donuts or mattresses as opposed to Sheetrock and nails, a series of embarrassing construction delays would be a little more palatable, right?

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the planned home for the Falcons, Atlanta United and the 2020 Final Four — it suddenly seems appropriate to jump ahead three years and start the countdown — remains closed. This is turning into that recurring “Saturday Night Live” skit when Chevy Chase says, “Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.”

The Falcons’ new stadium: Still closed.

It was supposed to open March 1.

Then it was pushed back to June 1.

Then to July 30.

Now it’s to Aug. 26, according to the Journal-Constitution’s Tim Tucker. The first event will be the Falcons’ third exhibition game against Arizona.

Stay tuned because nothing is certain at this stage. Except this: The Georgia Dome, that “dump” of a 25-year-old building, remains standing, and functional. It won’t be imploded until Blank’s economic battle station is open and the futuristic, multi-paneled roof is fully operational, just like the once-wounded “Death Star” in Star Wars.

From Steve Cannon, CEO of Blank’s parent company, AMB Group: “This really does represent an insurance policy. We do not expect to use the Georgia Dome whatsoever.”

Because that would be, like, really embarrassing.

I’m sure when Mercedes-Benz Stadium is open and fully operational, it will fulfill everybody’s wow factor. It will have all the bells, whistles and martini bars that NFL owners embrace, Those owners will then go to their respective local governments to try to suck millions more in public money for a new venue or extreme makeover of their building, all in the name of “staying competitive.”

But for now, Blank can’t help but notice the Braves’ new SunTrust Park is playing to rave reviews. Also, it’s open! Yes, the area surrounding the stadium still includes rubber cones and construction directional signs, dug-up roads and pedestrian walkways and many unfinished buildings that are part of the mixed-use development. But the stadium works. The Braves are playing in it. Quite well, actually.

There’s a significant difference between the two stadiums obviously. The Braves’ venue is open air. The Falcons’ venue has more moving parts with a retractable roof, and one that has never been designed to open or close like this.

So now it won’t open. Or it won’t close. We’re not really sure. It’s the sports-venue equivalent of pushing the button on your garage opener and the blender turns on.

Blank redefined the retail industry. Now he’s aiming to redefine sports venues. He’s paying the cost with construction overruns (funded by him) and three postponements.

Atlanta United, which was forced to start the season playing home games at Georgia’s Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium, has opted in for another home game at Tech on July 29. The game was to be the first event in the new place July 30. Two other United home games in August have been pushed back and now are dated as “TBD.”

The place may look good one day. But today, it’s not a good look.

Subscribe to the,We Never Played The Game” podcast with the AJC’s Jeff Schultz and WSB’s Zach Klein on iTunes. Episodes also can be downloaded from on-demand link on WSBRadio.com.

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Reader Comments 0

32 comments
PTC DAWG1
PTC DAWG1

You really tried to compare the two?  

Reidtt
Reidtt

Why is it embarrassing? It's a 1.5 billion dollar stadium using new and never before used technology. The only thing embarrassing is the hack sports journalism at AJC.

JohnB
JohnB

hey,

I know this is not pertinent to your story about the Falcon stadium, but what is up with the dawgnation site? It has not been upgraded for four days, and with spring practice and the upcoming Gday game, one would think there would be some coverage.

Kanarstead
Kanarstead

21,000 at Sun Trust last night, yeah, people can't wait to watch the Braves there!  21,000!  Lol.

Gman84
Gman84

The Falcons organization is having trouble finishing?

MikeKoblentz
MikeKoblentz

Perspective. Everyone criticized and joked about the Obamacare rollout and today it has 55% approval. To his credit, Blank kept the Falcons in Atlanta and with great duplicity the Braves left our great city leaving many of us blindsided. What really counts is that the stadium has become the catalyst for major revitalization of 2 adjacent, historic neighborhoods surrounding it that are the birthplace of the American Civil Rights Movememt. There are scores of organizations that are homegrown that have emerged over the last 5 years and great strides and successes have already been made and several hundreds of people have been energized. As we see people's lives truly get better over the next several years, you think anyone will care whether a very compicated,structure and roof design never undertaken before, came in a few months late? The Braves stadium and the surrounding area will essentially stay the same and will be a footnote in history. Those of us who volunteer in these efforts will take pride that we maybe we helped a bit in seeing the new Falcons stadium help restore the area that will be in our history books forever. Perspective.

Gman84
Gman84

Yeah, lets hope it's as good as Obamacare. That's a real winner

HeatherHZayas
HeatherHZayas


my gf's parents just got an almost new red Buick Regal GS only from working off a laptop. look at this site>>>>>>>>>>>www.smart-job5.com

0.02870123882
0.02870123882

For real contractors, Home Depot is a convenience store.  It is not where they purchase the bulk of their materials.  Steel beams, glass and aluminum panels, and the type of commercial plumbing, electrical, and HVAC equipment in the stadium have nothing to do with a retail store selling to weekend do-it-yourselfers.  Probably less than 1/2 of 1% of the materials in that stadium could be found in a Home Depot.  So your entire story is a huge fallacy.  And just because one sells building materials does not make him an expert at building anything.  He hired some of the best contractors in Atlanta to do this.  With the expectations already on them, you can be sure if they are not done on time, there is a darn good reason that is beyond their control.  Arthur Blank has absolutely nothing to be ashamed about.  Sometimes great things happen when you take the time to do them right.  If the teams play a few more games in the dome, then that is planning for all contingencies.  It should be applauded, not criticized.  Most people don't have the brain power to figure out how to make that roof do what it is going to do.  Sure the Braves finished their stadium first.  It is new and it is nice, but what is cutting edge about the structure itself?  It is hard to believe you want to get critical of a guy who puts up his own money to make the bulk of this happen, and is footing the bill for the cost overruns too.  Do a little research before you come up with this negative garbage.

inoto20
inoto20

@0.02870123882  Must be an arthur family friend. Um, 1/2 of 1%? Yeah right. They sell quikrete ya know. And plumbing. And marble. And electrical. That's about half of the stadium.Arthur looks dumb because the of the cost far exceeding what he spun to the public. Tens of millions of dollars over budget.

0.02870123882
0.02870123882

@inoto20 @0.02870123882  You must not have read what I wrote.  I'm no friend of the family, but I am a General Contractor.  I do much smaller projects than that stadium.  You obviously know very little about construction if you think my figure is off.  They did not make the concrete mixing 80 lb bags at a time.  A batch plant was built on site and tractor trailers or rail cars delivered the raw materials and then it was mixed.  Home Depot sells marble, but contracts it out to somebody else.  If you read my article,  Go purchase a sensor flushing commercial toilet from Home Depot.  Pick up the electrical panels and pass through panels and light fixtures that were used in that building.  Go buy a steel truss from Home Depot.  You can't.  They don't sell it.  If you are able to special order it from Home Depot, they will purchase it from the same companies that professional buy from direct.  I'm not upset as RealMikeBell seems to be implying.  I am just setting the facts straight on an article with a bad premise.  

mgunter
mgunter

Bahahaha .........Dawg^2 nailed it, this is getting ugly and embarrassing .

inoto20
inoto20

Jeff why didn't you mention how many millions over budget blanks stadium has cost compared to suntrust? Seems like its a very relevant aspect too.

Archangel
Archangel

@inoto20 Been listening to Buck and Kincade? The current projected cost is the budget, they've added new things since the first announcement so they increased the budget.

EvanComm
EvanComm

@Archangel @inoto20 The original budget was $1B with $200M in taxpayer support. It's now $1.6B with $400M. The costs have gone up $600M because of the roof not extra bells and whistles. $600M isn't "bells and whistles" it's almost the entire cost of the Braves ballpark. It's also more than the cost of the battery. A 100 yard bar doesnt' cost $600M.  

Archangel
Archangel

@EvanComm @Archangel @inoto20 The roof was a part of the original design and cost, and no where did they say the cost increases are because of the roof, you're making that up because of the current controversy.

Their were seating changes, field changes, and increased costs from the tech used by IBM. There were other cost increases too, but I can't remember what they were, but they weren't roof related. 


inoto20
inoto20

Braves have won 5 in a row and a game out of first fineousmoron

Archangel
Archangel

@DawgNole @inoto20 Actually, you posted this after they lost one in a row while he posted before. Which makes you look stupid.

FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

This is really just a take on a short term issue. When the gleam of SunTrust wears off and fans realize that Liberty Media still isn't investing in the product on the field, Atlantic Station North will gradually become much less "wow." Meanwhile, once MBS is fully operational and fans continue to enjoy the investment that Arthur has and will continue to make in his two franchises, the "wow" will build on achievements instead of marketing flash. The difference between being great and looking great.


"It's not a good look" for a couple of months. The Braves haven't been a good look for nearly 10 years. 

Dawg^2
Dawg^2

While Blank was playing checkers, the Braves played chess.  I love football, but have never had Falcons season tickets.  I like baseball, and spent $55,000 for 4 season tickets for this year.  So far, nothing but impressed.  Everything about SunTrust Park is awesome, the stadium and everything around it make it an incredible experience.  Oh, and parking/traffic has been a breeze.  The "wow" factor isn't in the cool stadium, it's about the experience.  Tailgating in a parking deck at MB stadium has no appeal.  Blank should have built the stadium in Doraville, on the Marta line, and had a mixed use complex similar to what the Braves have done.  Then they would have gotten my money.  Instead it continues to go to UGA football and now Braves baseball.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Dawg^2 Glad to hear it...seems the teams you spend $$ on haven't done anything relevant in a decade or so?

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

The Braves haven't done anything relevant in two decades--a period during which UGA has continued to own GT on the football field.

EvanComm
EvanComm

@TOJacket @Dawg^2 For those counting I believe the Braves and Falcons have won the same number of titles in the last two decades. Both have made the playoffs, but not won it all. So if that's your metric on the Braves, then you have to give the same tough love to the Falcons too.