The Falcons hosted their annual State of the Franchise event on Thursday evening, and president and CEO Rich McKay, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith had a number of interesting things to say about personnel and focus moving into the new season and plans for the new stadium, and they also fielded questions from fans.
Rich McKay focused primarily on the new stadium in his remarks, as he is heavily involved in the process.
McKay stated that the primary reason the Falcons are moving forward on the new stadium at this time is because their lease at the Georgia Dome is set to expire in 2017, and Arthur Blank believes that it's time to create a long-term solution that will benefit the Falcons organization as well as the city and the fans. McKay described the venture as a true public-private partnership, with the Falcons assuming the bulk of the risk.
McKay emphasized the team's commitment to positively impact the surrounding community through this venture, and said that it's one of their top priorities as well as one of the biggest challenges they will face.
The team has selected 360 Architecture, who designed Met Life Stadium and many others. As far as what to expect in the design of the new stadium, the Falcons are expecting the new stadium to be a standard-bearer and a game changer when it comes to stadiums.
McKay said that, although there are some beautiful new stadiums around the league, the game day experience is pretty static. He took a subtle shot at Cowboys Stadium when he alluded to the fact that a "weird thing hung down the middle" of a stadium doesn't really change the game day experience for the fans. The Falcons want to set the bar high in creating a unique experience for fans in the new venue.
Currently, the Georgia Dome is home to a number of high-profile regional events in addition to Falcons home games, such as the SEC Championship, but the Falcons want to create a venue that will be the best destination in the United States for high profile events. Not only that, but Arthur Blank envisions the new stadium as an iconic destination--something that people will go and see when they visit Atlanta even if they aren't planning to attend a sporting event there.
When the new stadium committee met with 360 Architecture, the firm provided them with cards to flip through with "outside the box" ideas for the new stadium, designed to get them thinking of creative, new ways to enhance the game day experience--for example, "What if food trucks provided all of the concessions?" and "What if the fans controlled the scoreboard?" You've surely also heard about the potential for seats that vibrate after a big play, and the possibility of a 100 yard bar. They are still in the early stages of planning, but it's clear that they're thinking big, and that the new stadium will be truly unique. And they're not just thinking big about the stadium itself. McKay said that hosting a Super Bowl is not the team's goal. They intend to host multiple Super Bowls.