On Thursday, June 29, 2017, 10 a.m. EDT, I had the pleasure of paying a visit to the shadows of the nearly completed Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta. The elephantine edifice can be seen from miles away and appears to have its reputation corroborated for being one of the top tier palaces on the National Football League’s forthcoming season.
Unfortunately, some of the delays in the construction of the Atlanta Falcons’ new aerie have not made a smooth transition for the process of urban renewal with areas adjacent to the stadium. Depending upon which root you select to navigate through the heart of Atlanta, one could still observe the dolorous situation of homeless citizens residing in deplorable circumstances underneath overpasses and a myriad of derelict buildings that some would consider noisome to unsuspecting tourists.
The optics and aesthetics of some buildings in proximity of Mercedes-Benz Stadium is tantamount to having the Taj Mahal planted in one of America’s most penurious enclaves. It seems as if the current state of these neighborhoods is at variance with the rosy estimates proposed to the NFL before the first excavation process commenced.
Of course, the nostrum of gentrification is not immediate. Atlanta will need some time in developing the community into the lavish confines that both the NFL and Atlanta Falcons envisage.
Nevertheless, many individuals have seen this plot before with the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. The residents along Hank Aaron Boulevard were promised that happy days were here again after Turner Field was formed from the remnants of Centennial Olympic Stadium in 1996. A fable was presented to the community that the confluence of patricians and the Braves playing home games there would result in numerous employment/entrepreneurial opportunities for its neighbors as a result of bacchanalian activities of the patrons.
When some attempted to peddle merchandise in front of the stadium, the City of Atlanta occasionally would implement moratoriums on individuals imitating the Hustle Man character on Martin portrayed by Tracy Morgan due to safety concerns of some fans entering into the ballpark. Whether the issue was based upon public safety or lack of access to revenue from sales, the Atlanta Braves used the situation to their advantage by ultimately relocating up the road to Cobb County for the new and improved SunTrust Park where suitable restaurants, shops, lodging, and exclusive condominiums were already being constructed.
Moreover, Atlanta is endeavoring to join the Super Bowl circuit along with New Orleans and Miami after the completion of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Yes, the National Football League did award Atlanta the customary Super Bowl (LIII) in 2019 as a token reward for constructing this magnificent facility, but any thoughts of North Georgia being included in the revolving championship game schedule is presumptuous. At this point, Atlanta would achieve a coup d’état in order to be associated with Miami, New Orleans, and eventual return to the title game in Los Angeles; we are also in competition with occasional outliers such as Houston, Phoenix, and Tampa as well.
In conclusion, Atlanta’s propensity for the sudden inclement weather in early February (during my birthday) does not bode well for the city aspiring to be added to the Super Bowl rotation. Some fans still believe that the NFL has not forgiven Atlanta for a similar situation that occurred in late January of Super Bowl XXXIV, which is unsubstantiated. This metropolitan area can thrive if the community where Mercedes-Benz Stadium rests can be transformed completely; a Risorgimento of any kind could change the perspective of the residents and the city overall throughout the United States.