Atlanta United sent out emails today detailing changes in the season schedule, also indicating that Mercedes Benz Stadium is undergoing another delay. It’s an incredibly unfortunate set of circumstances that affects Atlanta United supporters more than any other group of fans. That being said, make sure your blame is pointed in the right direction.
If you’re blaming Atlanta United for the delays of the stadium, I’d ask you to stop. What Atlanta United front office member was hammering and working the machinery? Did you see Darren Eales pouring concrete, or Carlos Bocanegra soldering? Oh, I remember seeing Kenwyne Jones drill things up high.
No, Arthur Blank didn’t do this on purpose so that the Atlanta Falcons could be the first game in the Mercedes Benz Stadium. Even without Atlanta United, the Falcons would still not be the first game inside The Benz. Blaming Atlanta United for the mess that has been Mercedes Benz Stadium is unfounded and ignorant.
The latest reasoning for the latest delay has been solely fixated on the retractable roof, an issue Blank and those associated with the construction have said is a complex and unique design, and therefore, process. Both delays have stemmed from construction-specific issues that have brought the cost to run $600 million over budget. This is a construction team issue and ONLY a construction team issue. The Falcons and Atlanta United could only make plans based off the estimated completion date given the them by the construction team.
Does it suck? Yeah, of course. But to specifically fire off tweets and blame Atlanta United for this is wrong. They did not lie to you. They worked with the information they were given. They’ll find appropriate ways to compensate you for any games missed inside The Benz and do their best to make this inconvenience right. For those who have already made plans and have spent money for the dates that have been changed, I can’t say anything that’ll make you feel better. I can say the Atlanta United front office have done nothing but put supporters first and I wouldn’t expect anything to change.
Let’s be smarter fans. This isn’t to say season ticket holders shouldn’t be upset, but let’s be the fans who know exactly where to direct that anger. The sales representative you called and left an angry message for is likely a part-time employee or intern looking to gain experience or money while still in school who is probably one of the last people to know what’s going on. Supporter section season ticket holders should be sympathetic towards those who aren’t in the supporter section. You may not care where they play, but a large portion of casual fans bought season tickets with the expectation games would be played inside The Benz, and unfortunately, circumstances have not allowed for that to happen. It is ABSOLUTELY reasonable to be upset.
Some of you will still blame the Falcons and Atlanta United. Nothing said will convince you to redirect your anger and displeasure of the announced changes. We’re fortunate that Atlanta United is one of the best front offices in MLS not only from a player acquisition and organizational standpoint, but also one of the best towards their fans. Atlanta United could easily take your money and run. Instead, they’ll work over the next few weeks to make things right and work even harder to regain your trust and respect over something they had relatively no control over. If we can unite and move beyond this “low” we’ll look back at the end of the year and talk about how the delays have brought fans and Atlanta United closer. I’ll trade these kind of “lows” every time over actual performance lows.