State Farm Arena Transformation With Sports Tech Enhanced Features
State Farm Arena opens tonight when the Atlanta Hawks play the Dallas Mavericks after a $200 million arena refurbish of which $142.5 million came from Georgia public funding, something I am fully against because billionaire owners don’t need the money, right. This is touted as the second-biggest facility redesign in NBA history after MGS in New York. My son and I went to the “Welcome to the Neighborhood” Open House Party which was free to the public last weekend and had a good time indeed which bodes well for fans this evening and throughout the 2018/19 season. Unfortunately, with the new sponsor and all the technology-driven bells and whistles like the fantastic Prismview center-hanging video board, new scoreboard, bigger training areas, and upgraded locker room, this team is destined for the 2019 draft lottery next year. All the innovative sports tech at State Farm Arena was my favorite upgrade while my boy on the autism spectrum simply loved the elevators. What does this all mean for the average NBA fan living in Atlanta in terms of value where the cost of living is growing rapidly, especially if the east coast Amazon HQ comes here? The Sports Techie community blog spells it out below.
It means tax money was spend to change the old Phillips Arena via a transformation that was much needed during the past two summers bringing the total number of seats to 16,500 rather than use the funds for the greater good in terms of spending to help the incredible amount of homeless, build new infrastructure and pay down ever rising health care costs for all. As a result, it is true that every seat now has a good sight line after the demolition of the previous wall of suites.
In fact, the organization installed huge glass windows allowing fans to walk the concourse and see the Atlanta city skyline or MB Stadium while also being able to walk around the arena and watch the live action. Part of the State Farm Arena concourses were actually rebuilt to emulate the Belt Line trail.
Unique Fan Experiences
Once inside you will notice the fan experience was a huge priority for new owners, Tony Ressler and Grant Hill. Among the many options fans have to engagement with, the best include: Topgolf Swing Suites complete with large screens and simulators, the new Front Porch neighborhood where you can get a barber shop haircut for free on this day by Killer Mike’s S.W.A.G. Shop while watching live basketball or in this case the Grand Opening Ceremony, as well as eating at Zac Brown’s Social Club featuring Southern gourmet food, or checking out the Hawks Walk Market.
Because an original good idea like the Sports Techie global online community is worth copying much like Facebook does to Snapchat, this organization pounced on the success the local Falcons and United FC franchises in the NFL and MLS respectively had with offering competitively priced fan-friendly concessions at Mercedes-Benz Stadium rather than gouge fans that may have paid for a personal site license as a requirement for every seat sold at MB Stadium, the cost of season tickets, steep parking fees, overpriced merchandise, and other incumbent costs that drive the true cost of attending a professional sports game out of the retractable roof for most fans. The concept is you make more profit by selling more volume of $1 chips or $4 bottomless bags of popcorn but you still need enough fans to attend to make that business model work. The Hawks say by utilizing technology and new design features, fans are able to enjoy fresh and affordable menu items and faster service throughout the arena. Winner!
To give you an example of what I mean in terms of entertainment value in Atlanta, Kellan an I attended the Braves versus Brewers game with about a month to go in the regular MLB season at the amazing second-year SunTrust Park. This was two good teams in a pennant and wildcard playoff drive. I paid only $4 a seat on TickPick which resells tickets with ZERO ticket fees. I luckily parked for free nearby (actually I gave the young parking attendant a $2 tip which was all the cash I had) which is nearly impossible to do in Cobb County. Once inside our 300 level seats, I noted there were around 9,000 fans in attendance. By the end of the night, there were approximately 2,000 hearty fans left so we snuck down to the 100 level behind the first base line to finish up the ballgame. Now that is real value and somewhat of a bandwagon fanbase.
By the All-Star break, I believe Hawks tickets will be almost free or close to it because the allure of the new arena wears off quickly unlike a decade or more ago when a new stadium almost guaranteed sellouts for at least the first year of existence and often beyond. New technologies matter little when you put an inferior product on the floor or field resulting in fans being wise enough to not pay the man. Rather, the smart #SportsTechie fan knows how to use ticketing and parking apps to pay what they want not what the team wants.
Good thing is the secondary ticket market is available and actually tells a lot about interest in attending games or concerts. I did a search on Tick Pick today and you can go tonight for $30. Ticketmaster has prices as low as $25 before additional fees. That is truly a bargain for opening night at a transformed venue no matter the quality of players or game. Go on Wednesday, November 1 against the Sacramento Kings and it will cost you $13 on TickPick. I recommend parking for free near the Georgia Tech campus and walking the few extra blocks to the games keeping costs down for families and individuals alike. Are you starting to see what I am talking about in terms of value?
State Farm Arena Open Party Video
Neighborhood Open House Party
I am grateful for the chance to attend this free event last weekend. We were among the first 2,000 fans in attendance and received an exclusive Spalding basketball commemorating the grand opening of State Farm Arena.
We sat about three rows up from the floor not to be mistaken for the courtside seats. Being so close was a risk because kids with autism often do not like loud noises like the over amplified music but we settled in nicely and waited for the Grand Opening Ceremony to begin.
I thoroughly enjoyed when the Samsung video board began playing the introduction to State Farm Arena video that I recorded and posted on the Sports Techie YouTube channel you can watch above. We listened to Ressler and the State Farm CEO speak as well as another excited team executive cheerleader, then it was over.
Next, we explored the two levels of suites redistributed around the arena replacing the old wall of suites.
The day was getting long for Kellan so we missed out on meeting Hawks alumni like legendary Dominique Wilkins, or talking with Hill and Harry the Hawk. We did see the marching band walking though the concourse though.
Sports Techie, I have been a blogger and curator of the Sports Techie community blog for almost a decade now. Think what you will but I love doing what I do because it keeps my thumb on my passion for sports technology while allowing me the privilege to promote good will in terms of the environment and sustainability, with a digital eye on stadiums, animals, robotics and gaming, because both my son and love all that and more. Kellan keeps me grounded as does my income level allowing me to be the voice of the common man or women like no other. This is why I am truly THE Sports Techie.
That all said, I recommend you spend the money and go to see first round pick Trae Young and his Hawks teammates play at the transformed State Farm Arena because is it a unique fan experience driven by sports tech.
I am still bitter at the NBA (and Starbucks owner Howard Shultz) for high jacking the Seattle Supersonics to OKC under the reign of commissioner David Stern but alas, change is in the air as the Sonics will now have a new home in the also refurbished Key Arena after the NHL grants them a new franchise first.
In the meantime, when in Rome as Will Ferrell says, I am #TrueToAtlanta.
Go Hawks, of course I mean the Seahawks, but for now, it means my son has his own hometown team to support and cheer on at the fabulous State Farm Arena.
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) October 24, 2018
Let’s defeat the Mavericks and owner Mark Cuban who is using augmented reality plays to drive up attendance in Dallas for a team that might be just as bad because a 1-0 record may be the only winning record the Hawks or Mavs have all season long.
If the NBA is not your ticket, WWE Smackdown Live comes to State Farm Arena on October, 30.
See ya later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!
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