Home Field Disadvantage
ATLANTA— The Atlanta Falcons have an attendance issue. Their home games feel like neutral-site games.
Sunday’s home loss to the Dallas Cowboys felt like a road game.
Ever since the doors to the $1.6 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened, the Falcons have yet to pack the house consistently. This has led to games with empty seats galore and opposing teams’ fans making their presence felt.
This is for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Atlanta fans don’t show up when their team is average. They will make their way to the stadium, or arena, of the Atlanta team that’s winning. For examples, see the Braves’ attendance numbers when they returned home with a five-game winning streak. Also see the turnout for the Hawks games in 2015, when they won 60 games.
But casual fans refuse to see the Falcons, who have taken some of the franchise’s ugliest losses this season.
Then there’s the PSL (personal seat license) setup that Arthur Blank refuses to admit is a bad idea.
Owning a Falcons PSL means you have the ownership rights to a specific seat in the stadium. This gives you the right to purchase season tickets and acquiring extra single game tickets.
It sounds nice until you realize that people are buying PSLs and then attempting to sell off their season tickets to make a personal profit. These reselling prices are simply too high and priced out the die-hard fans that showed up each game at the Georgia Dome.
So, in short summary, Atlanta’s got a struggling football team that plays in a stadium with a backfiring PSL system. Not good.
This brings us back to Sunday when that combination reached a new high (or low). In the first half, Dallas sacked Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on third down, and the stadium erupted. The same reaction occurred when Dak Prescott scored the game’s first touchdown, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch picked off Ryan, and kicker Brett Maher knocked through the game-winning field goal.
There’s no way Mr. Blank can be pleased with this. This has to be especially true since his MLS franchise, Atlanta United, doesn’t have a PSL system and consistently sell out, setting MLS attendance records.
Something needs to go in effect to fix this issue because important regular-season games have the attendance of the fourth preseason game.
By: David Schiele