So how does the owner of an NFL franchise that is hosting the Big Game spend his time during Super Bowl week? Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons, has been spending his time as an ambassador for the city and the state.
For Blank, the kick-off to the Super Bowl LIII festivities began on the evening of Jan. 21 with a trip to New York City.
I remember being up late in my cousin Chris’s open area ranch home living room off Columbia Drive in October of 1996 watching the Atlanta Braves lose the World Series to the New York Yankees despite having a commanding 2-0 lead.
My younger brother, my cousin and I were in utter disbelief at what we had just witnessed.
By Guest Columnist MIKE DOBBINS, professor of the practice of planning at Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture and former Atlanta planning commissioner
With the Atlanta City Council’s action to approve the CIM deal to develop the Gulch in Downtown Atlanta, what should city officials and citizens be doing to follow up the many, many complicated steps, approvals, and financial transactions that will now persist over a 20-plus year timeframe?
Updated with info on donations and support from the Home Depot, the CDC Foundation, the Atlanta Humane Society and the TOUR Championship.
The UPS Foundation announced Monday that it will provide more than $1 million to help disaster relief and long-term recovery assistance to communities impacted by Hurricane Florence.
Eduardo Martinez, president of the UPS Foundation, made the announcement Monday morning at the VII Atlanta Global Health Summit: Health, Resilience & Natural Disasters at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead.
Updated: A memorial service to celebrate the life of John A. Williams will be held on Monday, April 23 at 2 p.m. at Peachtree Presbyterian Church at 3434 Roswell Road NW, Atlanta, Ga. 30305. A reception will follow the service at the Cherokee Town Club at 155 W. Paces Ferry Road NW, Atlanta Ga 30305. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Piedmont Heart Institute or a charity of your choice
From the first time I saw the design for the then-unnamed new Falcons stadium in October 2013, I was smitten.
Architect Bill Johnson poetically described how the first-of-its-kind retractable roof would open with eight panels traveling along octagonal tracks to create the opening by saying: “The heavens will open up.”
Arthur Blank says he is committed to honoring the history around the stadium. This is tailor made (Photo by Chad Carlson)
From Chad (with a couple of edits):
“We the citizens of Atlanta bought this building earlier this year. Not to save it would be a tragedy. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city – (1869) on the campus of one of the first African American higher educational institutions – the Atlanta University Center (Spelman, Morehouse, Morris Brown, Clark Atlanta). This building significance is beyond its beauty. It was where W.E.B. DuBois gained fame as a professor at Atlanta University. His book, “The Souls of Black Folk,” was a clarion call for black consciousness around the world. He was as important for African American determination in the first half of the 20th century, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was to the second.”
The Atlanta United soccer franchise plans to build its headquarters and $35 million training facility in DeKalb County. The DeKalb County Commission voted to approve the agreement with Atlanta United FC. It would involve a $12 million investment by the county. Credit Atlanta United
The new Atlanta United soccer franchise announced Tuesday that it had chosen DeKalb County for its headquarters and $35 million training facility. The DeKalb Commission voted earlier that day to approve the agreement with Atlanta United FC, one that would involve a $12 million investment by the county.
“Finally, something good is happening in DeKalb County.”
That’s what someone told me after the 4-3 vote by the DeKalb County Commission, approving an agreement with Atlanta United to locate its headquarters near the intersection of Memorial Drive and I-285.
That joy was short-lived.
A day later, former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers, who had been hired by DeKalb’s CEO Lee May to investigate possible corruption in the county, proclaimed that DeKalb was “rotten to the core.”
What a juxtaposition of highs and lows for Georgia’s fourth-largest county.
In recent years, several of DeKalb’s top officials have been indicted and found guilty of various ethical and legal breeches. It is a far cry from the DeKalb that existed 20 and 30 years ago when it was run by Manuel Maloof and Liane Levetan, both respected and powerful leaders in the region.
DeKalb leaders had hoped that the county’s tides were turning by winning the highly competitive Atlanta United headquarters.
On the day of the press briefing announcing the deal, the mood was uplifting, and team owner Arthur Blank, a co-founder of Home Depot, even became nostalgic about the decision. It was June 22, 1979, when Home Depot opened its very first store across the street from where Atlanta United plans to develop a 3,500-seat stadium and three additional soccer fields.
“It has come full circle,” Blank said, reflecting over his career. You see, for Blank, his investment in Atlanta’s Major League Soccer franchise is personal and close to his heart. He attended the event with his son, Joshua, an avid soccer fan and talented player.
Perhaps Atlanta United’s decision will improve the perception of a fractured DeKalb County and spark economic development in the Memorial Drive corridor.
But that may be too much to ask.
The county continues to be divided between North and South. Even the vote on the soccer facility was split, with the white commissioners voting against it, and the black commissioners voting for it.
It is too bad that the Atlanta United soccer franchise, located in “Central” DeKalb, has not yet united the county.
But as Blank said, the decision to base the soccer team at that location, felt like a spiritual journey for him, a coming home.
Let’s hope DeKalb’s journey will fuse a divided county into a united DeKalb.
Soccer fans still have to wait about a year and a half before they will be able to go to a match to see Atlanta’s pro team at the new downtown stadium. But when owner Arthur Blank officially unveiled the team’s new name – Atlanta United FC – and its new logo at a rowdy event Tuesday, and the crowd of 4,000 fans could not have been more excited!
When it comes to sports in Georgia, frenzy is usually associated with college football or NASCAR … maybe the Falcons, the Hawks or the Braves.
Well all that is beginning to change.
Soccer is already the most popular game in the world, and now it is solidly taking hold in Atlanta. We just have a team name and a logo, yet we don’t even have any players.
But the thousands of Atlanta fans who recently showed up at SOHO Lounge in west Midtown to see Blank and Don Garber — commissioner of Major League Soccer — were cheering so loudly, you would have thought we had just won a championship.
Garber was so pumped! He talked about how the new America is discovering soccer, adding, “This new America is right here in Atlanta.”
Some may think the name, Atlanta United, is boring. But Blank said that focus group after focus group suggested the theme of Atlanta was all about unity and coming together.
He looked around at the generational, ethnic and racial diversity of the people who gathered for the announcement and said, “This is Atlanta.”
He knew that was why the new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta United belonged in the heart of the city.
“Urban downtown stadiums are so exciting because they are attracting the people who are here tonight,” Blank said.
When the Georgia Dome hosted the soccer match between Mexico and Nigeria in March 2014, we witnessed the multicultural energy of that new America, of that new Atlanta.
Centennial Olympic Park and all of downtown had been transformed into our own United Nations. Yes, this is the future.
As one leader told me at the time … the Atlanta Braves are going to realize that their decision to move to Cobb County was so last century.
Thank you, Arthur Blank, for bringing professional soccer to the heart of the city and for uniting Atlanta in the 21st century.