Hawks fans, are you ready for a new arena?

Atlanta Hawks’ new owners Tony Ressler, left, and Grant Hill during a news conference to announce the sale of the NBA basketball team to an ownership group led by Tony Ressler, Thursday, June 25, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

Here's Tony Ressler, AJC editor Kevin Riley and Grant Hill. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC photo)

Here’s Tony Ressler, AJC editor Kevin Riley and Grant Hill. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC photo)

Not two hours after being officially introduced as the Atlanta Hawks’ new controlling owner, Tony Ressler was seated in sixth-floor conference room at the ol’ AJC, meeting with our editorial board and some scroungy sports types who heard there was food available. In my scant 31 years at this paper, that marked a first: A team owner coming to meet/greet us. Big kudos for that.

Ressler and Grant Hill, who’s the vice-chair of the Hawks’ executive board, graciously sat still and answered our many queries. Under close questioning by cub reporter Kevin Riley — OK, he’s actually our editor, and I expect a pink slip any minute — Ressler allowed that there were three things the new owners could do about Philips Arena, which opened in 1999: Nothing, remodel or rebuild. And the first, Ressler said, “isn’t an option.”

(Ressler also described Philips as being “not in the upper quartile of arenas.”)

Which means that the new owners want a new arena, which is par for the course. (Arthur Blank wanted a new stadium from the moment he bought the Falcons, which wasn’t even 10 years after the Georgia Dome had opened.) Maybe it’ll be a redone Philips. Maybe it’ll be a rebuilt arena where Philips stands. Maybe it won’t.

Long before the Braves lit out for the Northern Arc, the Hawks wanted to do as much. In the early ’90s, Stan Kasten had a plan to build a new arena along Georgia 400. Ted Turner, who then owned the Hawks, said no. He wanted the Omni’s replacement to go where the Omni was standing, not least — or so legend holds — because Ted had a penthouse apartment at CNN Center and wanted to walk to games. As usually happened, Ted got his way.

Most cities building new arenas/stadiums are building them downtown. The Braves are the exception, but the Braves got a sweetheart deal from Cobb County. (And the Braves were mad at Atlanta, which they believed chose the Falcons over them.) As Ressler noted often, he and his group “are in the first 24 hours of being owners,” so it’s not as if they’ve picked a parcel of land. But that discussion — downtown versus the suburbs — will be coming soon.

Reader Comments 1

114 comments
Red-Dog
Red-Dog

Build the new on on the West side , say on Fulton Industrial so you can get in and out of it  easily then run the MARTA train to it and Bing- Bang- Boom- your'e done!

HymanRoth
HymanRoth

Don't know about a new arena but a new SF should be Tobias Harris. 

MoreySims
MoreySims

phillips arena is getting old and out of date---the new owners will want the city to build a state of the art arena with all the bells and whistles and tons of luxury suites so they can really cash in with millions in revenue!!!  the city needs to pay up!

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

These new stadiums for the ego of the owners is why sports have become such a joke!

TNScott
TNScott

Just when you thought the Hawks might be turning the corner this week happens. The Hawks unveil uniforms that look like carnivalesque,and have a complete disaster of a draft. Never thought I would live to see a Hawks draft that graded out to an "F" but it was a draft worthy of the grade. We trade for a guy who averaged double figure by scoring 20 points in two games at the end of the season. One of those games was against us, and a player, who during his time in the League, hasn't shown the ability to guard a garbage can.

CallMeStupid
CallMeStupid

I think we should move downtown Atlanta to the suburbs.

DoubleEE
DoubleEE

I see Philips Arena getting a major remodel in the next 3 years. I wirk at PA and it could definitely use some updating. It is showing some real wesr and tear.

Didn't Mayor Reed offer the prospective owners some kind of incentives? Thus I expect the new owners to call in that bargain chip soon.

The new owners do not want PA as it looks now to be compared (negatively) to the new Atlanta stadium which will be a next door neighbor.

The owners need to foot the majority of a remodel for PA but that will not happen. It will be the city and taxpayers.

dexregal0927
dexregal0927

With as good a season as the Hawks enjoyed, new management must realize there are expectations of progress from the fans. At times (oft times, most times) a move of this sort tends to derail the type of progress which can be expected of the 15-16 season for the Hawks. That being said, hopefully the new satdium thing and other external affectations not directly related to the 5 guys on the floor will not impede the progression of success that Atlanta experienced thisnpast season.  

luludog
luludog

Sure Ressler needs to add value to the new corporate, for-profit, private business he just purchased in Atlanta. I just wonder why Atlanta taxpayers have to pay for it with public funds. That would be corporate welfare pure and simple. Let him pay for it.

It always amazes me how these arguments follow the same course, over and over: billionaire businessman starts up or purchases a professional sports team in a major city. The stadium needs to be built or upgraded with expensive additions. Sure that may be true. But it's the next step that bowls me over. "And the taxpayers have to cough up the money to cover these hundreds of millions in expenses or Mr. Billionaire will take his team elsewhere." That's where the train goes off the tracks! Why do we citizens have to pay for it? Why shouldn't Ressler, the billionaire, pay for it himself? He owns the business doesn't he?He can surely afford it, can't he? Happens in every city, every time. It is a lousy con job and too many citizens always fall for it, not the least of which are mayors like Mayor Reed or the Chair of the Cobb County commission and his cohorts who fall all over themselves dishing out taxpayer funds to billionaires on these phony, corporate welfare payout sports stadium deals like those for the Falcons, the Braves, and now, the Hawks.

Sautee
Sautee

@luludog Was it said anywhere is the article that Ressler expected taxpayer money? If so I missed it.


Sounds like a lot of angst for what could be nothing to me.

ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

@luludog Yep, Falcons building new field (80) feet from a perfectly fine facility(insane), while we dodge potholes in the streets the size of Roseanne Barr's as*.

Paul 7621
Paul 7621

Put the new basketball arena next to Sun Trust Park.

ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

Should have kept Ferry, the throw-back uniforms. and their mouth shut about a new arena until some consistency is shown on the court. And what the heck were they doing during the draft? Looking at the new building renderings?


Bad week for the new folks.

RamonReturns
RamonReturns

Anytime anyone buys a business or a corporation, the first order of business is finding a way to add value to the brand. A new arena would add much needed value to the brand of the Hawks. That is without question. Anyone who doesn't understand that is missing the point. Arthur Blank has been the owner of the Falcons for a long time. So his situation and Ressler's situation are vastly different. Don't forget that majority of the time the Hawks has played in the Philips Arena, the Hawks have lost money those seasons. So as a new owner, desiring a new arena to help off set certain losses and bring excitement in the world of ENTERTAINMENT, not only sports, would be logical.

wretched06
wretched06

How not to win the press conference. I wish one of the media guys would have the balls to stand up to these rich jerks. Buy your own stadium and move it to Alaska.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@NightHawk112005 


He will threaten to move the team -- and there are cities that will give him a free (for him) brand new arena


Seattle would do it --


I already do not like tone that is being set -- he just walks in the door and is pushing the community for a new arena


I would say let him go -- hey I lost the team I really cared about though I do not take that out on the coaches, players and new ownership


But I do not like this out of town venture capitalist coming in and in a defacto way -- "get me a new arena"


We need to fix our water system first and maybe schools if you can get sensible people in education

Hell Horsey
Hell Horsey

How soon before the two new lacrosse teams demand new stadiums?  Will the Gwinnett Braves demand a new stadium in Forsyth?

William1952
William1952

Well, comes now the new Hawks owner bellying up to the public teat expecting mega bucks to have a top of the line venue, which, with any luck, will last for 50 years, but used only about 10, when another not so veiled threat to move will appear. Atlanta politicos and fans, always the suckers, will trample one another whipping out their check books. What idiots.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

This arena has gotten old before its time -- the Spirit did not maintain it


And those blank TV screens -- I remember them when I went to the Thrashers games they were an eye sore


I have not been since the last THrashers game so I do not know of any updated made since April of 11


I want the NHL back though its not coming back -- been disgusted as a sports fan since

Wreck13
Wreck13

It is the Confederate Flag's fault.

Rijker
Rijker

Just fix it up. Yeah there is some wearand tear in spots. The roof, primarily, which did leak during a game this year (I think the last home game against Orlando?) and does look bad in certain spots.

ImaNitwit
ImaNitwit

I ain't wanting no minorities in my neighborhood.

VinceGavriledes
VinceGavriledes

Yeah, Philips Arena is a dump.  It's already sixteen years old.  Amazing it hasn't collapsed on itself by now.

DamonH
DamonH

that's because until recent years it wasn't really being used, a few hundred basketball fans per game weren't going to mess the place up and the concerts/events were spaced out (but now that the team has gotten better, more people started to show up and put a bit more stress on the ole building)

Peachtree Bart
Peachtree Bart

These owners seem to think fans think like billionaire owners who only patronize spotless, upscale locales.  Fans show up to support winning teams.  Period.  They don't live in these sports facilities.  They spend a few hours there every once in awhile.  This is not about fans.  It's about the corporate luxury-box revenue and the owners themselves.  That's it.

Peachtree Bart
Peachtree Bart

How would the Mayor respond after going all out to ensure the Hawks stay in Atlanta only for the new owner to move them to Sandy Springs?  Though you have to admit, the King & Queen building is the center of the new downtown.  

JaperJones1918
JaperJones1918

@PeachtreeBart Hardly. If anywhere is the new downtown, it's Midtown. Nobody cares about the suburban king and queen building except for the silly commuters. 

Peachtree Bart
Peachtree Bart

@JaperJones1918 @PeachtreeBart   I attended an urban planning conference at MIT last year that focused in part on Atlanta's growth, and several experts presented convincing research that presaged this particular shift.  With State Farm's mammoth new facility going up and Mercedes' opening just after that, as many as 18,000 new workers will be populating that area within the next 4 years.  The speed of development around there has far exceeded Midtown's.  Within 20 years the Sandy Springs-Perimeter area will very likely be the new downtown.  

bigdoggie1
bigdoggie1

Now, if Ressler wants to build a new arena, I suggest he open his own checkbook. 

I'm still laughing at all the conservatives in Cobb who got taken to the cleaners by their fellow conservative lawmakers, and are now on the hook for $400m to build SunTrust Field! 

You Cobbakazies elected who you thought had your back and wouldn't saddle you with excess debt! Then, as soon as a those conservatives smelled the money, your puny wishes were thrown out with the bath water!! 

Y'all got hornswaggled! Bwahahahahahaha!!!

bigdoggie1
bigdoggie1

Funny, I never have problems when I go downtown! I don't get bothered by homeless folks or panhandlers. MARTA is clean, but I wish the trains ran as often as they did in the 90s.

Methinks those who complain about downtown 1) Never really go there and just parrot the "dittoheads" who like to run down the majority-black city of Atlanta, or 2) You're the same people who don't want MARTA in your county b/c, in your little mind, it'll bring all sorts of bad black and brown folks to your lily-white community!

Signed, white, middle-aged, 45-year resident of Atlanta. 

dirtybird33
dirtybird33

Who cares? Not me. They just had their best season in like EVER and then fired the guy who built it all for reading the notes that a scout had written. Screw the Hawks, they'll be a perenial mediocre team for the rest of their days and they deserve it for letting Dominique be the voice. Dominique Wilkins, the one hall of famed who NEVER accomplished anything. 

scottw_
scottw_

Atlanta is the next Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, Oakland, etc. No one wants to go downtown to a game. 

agentoranj90
agentoranj90

@scottw_ That's the point I was making.  There's a good chance they leave for the suburbs.  People are sick of all the crap they have to deal with when going downtown, parking, panhandlers, homeless people, ect.  Personally I like the location.  I think it's good for big events like the final 4 and concerts because of all the hotels that are in the area.

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

@justhetruth2015 SURE THEY DO, especially when they want to get out of their car at a gas station without getting carjacked 

scottw_
scottw_

I'm not going to risk my life to go to a basketball game.

agentoranj90
agentoranj90

I heard this news tonight on 92.9 the Game.  I was really surprised.  One problem with Phillips is the location.  I went to watch the Hawks game 6 playoff vs the Wizards and we went downtown to check out one of the Sports Bar.  It was really sketchy so the wife decided we would go to Midtown.  Downtown is not a destination people really want to hang out at night.  On the other hand Phillips is a good location for Marta and public transit.  You have to think the same idea that went through the Braves head is going on - a location that can make the most money.  Still losing a big arena would be a monumental blow to the city of Atlanta and don't think that Kasim Reed won't be pulling all the stops to keep them downtown.  I think Phillips is a pretty nice arena.  Also, keep in mind when they were building Phillips the Hawks split time at Georgia Tech and the Ga Dome.  Playing at both those locations will cause a loss in revenue.

MikeInATL
MikeInATL

I reluctantly went along with the new Falcon's stadium.  I will not support my tax money supporting a new basketball arena.

davidbronson
davidbronson

I have an idea, you bought the hawks, you are a gazillaire, you build your own building not the tax payer!

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  1. […] Arena, which opened in 1999: Nothing, remodel or rebuild. And the first, Ressler said, ‘isn’t an option,'” the AJC report […]