The Falcons have a new $1.5 billion home, complete with martinis, fresh oysters and carved prime rib available for sustenance, and clubs and suites to pamper the rich and well-manicured.
But do you know what the Falcons don’t have yet? A home-field advantage.
Other than the first regular-season home game against Green Bay -- which may forever be remembered as, “The Night The Roof Was Open” -- crowds at Mercedes-Benz Stadium have been relatively sedate. Then again, fans haven’t had much to cheer for. The Falcons are only 3-3 at home in this 7-5 season.
Two days before the Falcons host New Orleans, coach Dan Quinn on Tuesday declared that fans need to stop using their “coasters.”
“We need to make it as loud as we can,” Quinn said. “If you need an excuse later to be late for work on Friday, let me know, we’ll get that handled for you. Let’s get it turned up on Thursday.”
He was just getting warmed up.
“I used the analogy the other day: We built a billion-dollar house, and we need to throw a billion-dollar party. You know, a house-warmer? Sometimes we’re still using the coasters. We need to be as loud and fun as all we represent as a city. I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed. (But) I think there’s (fans) looking at the house, checking it out. Let’s hope this is the (game) that it turns. The home-field advantage is real. We’re calling (for) that from a team to see if we can get that even stronger, louder.”
It’s not Quinn’s job to be the Director of Fan Pep. He’s the coach. But the fact that the team’s top football executive felt compelled to say something speaks volumes about the situation.
I’ve seen this before when a sports team moves into a new facility. Fans spend more time in awe of their surroundings, out of their seats and exploring the new eye candy than they did before. The game becomes secondary.
And, yes, when the team isn’t scoring 33.7 points per game again, the message becomes: There are fewer reasons to watch.
I also believe ticket pricing and the Falcons’ approach to PSLs have a lot to do with it. The team decided to maximize potential profit at the expense of shutting out Joe Fan this season when it decided not to have any single-game sale of tickets. Fans had to purchase a seat license (see: sports economic blackmail) for tickets.
The team held back no tickets for per-game sales. So the only seats available to those who didn’t buy a PSL were going to be on the oft-inflated secondary market. When so many everyday fans are effectively cut out for financial reasons, there’s going to be a ripple effect.
We’ll see if Quinn’s comments make a difference, particularly in a game that could go a long way to determining whether the Falcons make the playoffs. Two of their four remaining games are at home. It’s going to be difficult making the playoffs if they don’t go 2-0.