Having followed the Falcons from their inception in 1966, when they played their games in Fulton County Stadium, I feel that I can offer at least an opinion on the flight of the ” Dirty Birds”. The city of Atlanta built the Fulton County stadium in 1965 to attract major league sports to Atlanta, which was becoming an attractive convention town. Local business leaders felt that they needed to add professional sports to the list of things to do in Atlanta. It was felt that professional football and/or baseball would enhance the convention experience. The Fulton County stadium was a multi-use open air stadium that could allow baseball, football and soccer to be played on a natural turf. Thirty years after its birth, Fulton County stadium was imploded to make a larger parking lot for Turner Field, the new baseball stadium. In spite of legal maneuvers to keep the stadium viable for professional soccer, the Fulton County stadium was destroyed. The Falcons moved indoors to the Georgia Dome, an enclosed stadium built with taxpayer money. Ignoring the statistics that no “Dome” team had every won a Super Bowl , the reason they play professional football, the state of Georgia forged ahead with a 214 million dollar taxpayer investment. The Georgia Dome was the largest enclosed stadium in the world at that time. Now, 24 years later, the Georgia Dome is headed for the ash can. I guess the bathrooms got dirty.
If most of the Roman Colosseum, built in 80 A.D., is still standing after nearly 2,000 years, what are our expectations for building standards in modern times? Most of the damage done to the Colosseum was due to pilfering for other projects. Why, now, do perfectly good buildings that could be used for nearly any humanitarian process have to be destroyed to provide parking for the new albatross around the neck of the taxpayer? Why can’t taxpayer money be returned to the taxpayer in the form of infrastructure repairs and improvements? Atlanta’s aging water system is just one mild earthquake from total collapse. Pipe bursts and sink holes are not an uncommon sight, but we’re going to build a billion dollar plus stadium to watch the Falcons. Why, why, why?
John Oliver did a wonderful rant on HBO on the topic. He says it far better than I and it’s not just the Falcons, but other franchises who use the threat of moving on to get more concessions from the city. It puts me in mind of the girlfriend who constantly needed to be validated by being bought the newest, prettiest geegaw she could put to mind. Eventually you figured out that the loving you got wasn’t worth the drain on finances and energy.
Maybe it’s time for our political leaders to grow a set and not open up the taxpayers billfold to these false suitors who are only interested in what they can be given. Maybe our sports teams should be owned by the city like in Green Bay where a small population has supported the team since 1921. The Packers have 13 championships compared to the Falcons 0. Maybe they’re on to something. Four of the Packer championships have come since the Falcons started playing in 1966. I guess the Pack haven’t been intimidated by our stadiums.
Oh, lest I forget, the Falcons beat the Titans 31-24 in the first home game of their last season at the now doomed Dome. Hoorah!