For millions in Georgia, Sunday was glorious, if not dizzying.
No doubt many of the thousands who made the trek to the Georgia Dome finale were almost in a haze at the possibilities of the day:
▪ Beating Green Bay, which is a good thing in October, let alone in the playoffs;
▪ Winning the final game in the underappreciated and early-to-death Georgia Dome;
▪ Watching a football team that is playing pretty much the best football in the organization’s history, despite having “only” an 11-5 record, four years after a pair of 13-3 records sandwiched a 10-6 record.
▪ Playing at home with the Super Bowl on the line.
And the dream met reality for the 72,000 or so at the Georgia Dome, a lifetime moment, and a tease of going to the Super Bowl itself.
Like for Megan Akins Evans of Macon, who with husband Mason have been season-ticket holders for seven years and had already taken care of tickets in the new stadium. They haven’t missed a home game in awhile, and were amped to go to Houston.
They were plopped in Section 317 as the Falcons rolled the Packers 44-21, and looked ahead to a road trip of a lifetime. as per her Sunday afternoon Facebook post.
“Just looked at Mason, tears in my eyes, and said “We’re going to the Super Bowl!!!”
Monday brought some reality for Evans and thousands of other Atlanta season ticket holders.
“Now I know the saddest part of your team going to the Super Bowl — the next day when you get that phone call from the Falcons to say that your account was not picked for Super Bowl tickets,” she posted.
Lost in the euphoria of making the Super Bowl is the business of the Super Bowl.
By the time all is said and done, about two or three percent of available seats will actually find their way into the hands of the typical Atlanta season-ticket holder through the team’s lottery.
Unless, of course, a fan wants to go the ticket-sellers route.
Tickets are going for a minimum of about $3,500, and there are packages still available.
Atlanta got 17.5 percent of the ticket allotment.
Seating capacity for NRG Stadium — nobody seems ever able to determine an official seating capacity for facilities — depends on the source, from 71,795 to 72,200 for football. The Texans’ media guide doesn’t appear to list an official capacity, but the game notes for the home finale list capacity at 71,795. That isn’t much bigger than the Georgia Dome’s 71,228.
And the Super Bowl couldn’t come back to Atlanta because why again?
Capacity drops because of, among other things, auxiliary media seating for one of the largest productions on the planet.
Tickets also go to the “official hospitality partner of the” NFL, On Location.
So the Falcons have between 12,000 and 12,500 tickets to distribute. The 2016 season ticket base for the Falcons was about 57,000.
The Falcons’ lottery was based on seniority, how long one has had season tickets. And there are many long-suffering fans who have continued to re-up each season.
But not that many fans got the call.
Teams will first take care of the biggest corporate sponsors – cha-ching – and other such big-money responsibilities, and VIPs.
And so goes the pecking order until fans come up on the list.
Atlanta owner Arthur Blank is picking up the tab to take every Falcons employee, and there are around 500 of them, to the game. And that check will have six zeroes and two commas on it.
The good news for those gambling on buying tickets in Houston is that the price dropped once Green Bay dumped Dallas.
It’s a good time for the Falcons and the fans that can make the trip to take some notes. Atlanta will host the Super Bowl in 2019. Note: Matt Ryan will be 33 and Julio Jones will be 29.
Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium will seat about 72,000 for Falcons games, but it’s expandable.
One major difference in NRG Stadium and Mercedez-Benz Stadium is that there parking in Houston is substantially better, mostly because NRG Stadium is about 8 minutes from downtown Houston. Imagine the Georgia Dome being located around Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, without the airport nearby and much of that land.
The stadium is next to the venerable Astrodome, which, yes, is still standing after 53 years.
The facilities timeline for this year’s Super Bowl host facility and Atlanta’s facility history is interesting.
The Astrodome opened in 1965, and was home to the NFL’s Houston Oilers until 1999. That’s one home for 34 years.
The Falcons debuted in 1966 in Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium, then moved into the Georgia Dome in 1992 – 26 years later – and will take over the Mercedez-Benz Stadium (no mention of the Georgia Dome in there, like the Mercedez-Benz Superdome in New Orleans?) in the fall, spending less time in the Georgia Dome than Fulton County Stadium.
The Oilers left Houston in 1996 and became the Tennessee Titans, and the Texans’ first season in Houston at the then-Reliant Stadium was in 2002.
Atlanta began construction on its third football home in that span in 2014.
With the Falcons appearing to be on the most solid ground in organization history, their fans can legitimately dream of an up-close look at a Super Bowl team when the big event returns to the city for the first time since 2000, for the 1999 season.
The Falcon went 5-11 the year they played host. It’s doubtful they’ll repeat that when The Game returns, and the prayers for tickets grow stronger.