While I mentally digest some of the latest news about the Atlanta Falcons and their new stadium, notice I used “their stadium”, and not “our stadium”, let me make light of the situation:
Q: What do the Atlanta Falcons and Billy Graham have in common?
A: They both can make 70,000 people stand up and yell “Jesus Christ”.
But seriously folks, the Falcons opened their regular season tonight against a bigger stronger bird, the Philadelphia Eagles. As the camera pans around the now terminal Georgia Dome, I look for craters in the concrete or cracks in the support beams. I find none. Maybe the Georgia Dome is built over a fault line that seismologist predict will produce a major event in the very near future. Whatever the immediate need of destroying the stadium is, it is a done deal. The new four seasons stadium, I say four seasons because it will have a retractable roof to allow the elements in, is under way. I guess I should stop calling it the four seasons stadium since the Falcon owners have sold the naming rights.
Now, most of us Georgians would have thought any number of local businesses would have wanted to step up and name the new stadium. Here’s a list of a few Georgia Fortune 500 companies that might have looked forward to entertaining their corporate guests in “their” stadium:
- Home Depot
- United Parcel Service
- Delta Air Lines
- Southern Company
- Genuine Parts
- First Data
Note that the first name on the list is Arthur Blank’s own Home Depot. I guess in this case Mr. Blank was selling and not buying.
As you all know, sometimes I have a hard time wrapping my head around the whole picture. Let us assume I understand and agree with the choice to tear down a perfectly good stadium to further indenture the taxpayer to a sports owner. I don’t, but let’s say I do. The winner of the new stadium naming lottery leaves me slack-jawed. Mercedes Benz is paying two hundred fifty million dollars to have their name plastered all over the dome. They are even going to put the logo on the roof that will open and close in a pinwheel fashion.
Up until this point, I feel like I’ve given Mr. Blank a pass on a few of his eccentricities. For one, I am disturbed by his need to be on the sidelines and in the locker room. Back in the day, we used to call boosters who had never played, but wanted to hang around the athletes, “jock sniffers”. I was willing to just overlook this little weirdness as a guy who wanted to be a stud, wasn’t, but made enough money to buy a team of studs so he could hang out with them. Hey, I told myself, it could be worse, the team could still be owned by the Smiths.
Anyway, I’m having a hard time understanding a person of the Jewish persuasion attaching himself to a company that used slave labor in World Ward II. I’m all about forgiveness, and second chances, but I don’t know how you can get past the fact that the success of today’s Mercedes was built on as many as 40,000 slave laborers who worked under the most appalling conditions. Maybe Mr. Blank’s threshold for forgiveness is much lower than mine. Maybe Mr. Blank plans on donating the money to B’nai B’rith. There were roughly six million Jewish deaths attributed to the Nazi’s in World War II. Two hundred and fifty million dollars buys about $42.00 of atonement for each death. Yom Kippur is next week, so let’s watch and see how this plays out.
In unrelated news, the Falcons won 26-24.