The arena that hosts the Atlanta Hawks will undergo a $192.5 million facelift, second only in size to the renovation of Madison Square Garden and will include a restaurant from the Zac Brown Band and a barber shop run by Killer Mike of Run the Jewels and Outkast fame.
Construction of Philips Arena improvements began June 20 and will be completed during the 2018-2019 season to coincide with the Hawks’ 50th Anniversary in Atlanta, according to the NBA. The Hawks will continue to play all regular season home games at the arena while the work is underway, and have committed to an 18-year lease extension to remain through 2046.
The project will feature the installation of a new state-of-the-art hung scoreboard and video displays, revamped concourses with 360-degree connectivity and new open food stalls and bars throughout the facility, according to the NBA. The idea is to make the venue a more “fan-focused” sports and entertainment venue that reflects the spirit and vibe of Atlanta in part by redesigning and rebuilding it top to bottom as well as changing the entire arena configuration.
The arena hosts about 170 events and nearly two million visitors every year.
“We are beyond excited to see construction begin on the new Philips Arena. Every element of the arena under the roof will be brand new and designed with Atlanta and its vibrant communities in mind,” Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said in a statement. “Every trip to the new arena will be a great night out and an unbelievable experience.”
Contractors plan to remove the six-level wall of suites on the west side of the area, which will allow for new amenities on every level and create a new seating configuration that will give fans better sightlines to see both the Hawks and shows that frequent the venue. The number of traditional 20-person suites will be significantly reduced to make way for more modern and flexible suites showcasing a variety of seating options and amenities, tailored to fit any-sized business, entertainment or personal need, the NBA said.
Big-name artists have their hands in the renovations, too, a first for a major arena or stadium, the NBA said.
Fans of the Zac Brown Band – or anyone who likes Southern-style gourmet food – will be able to check out the Zac Brown’s Social Club, a restaurant that will include a live music stage and a “fully immersive dining experience,” the NBA said. Brown, an Atlanta native who still calls the city home, is a restauranteur who already has entertained fans with his “Eat & Greet” experience, where he treated approximately 150 people to dine on a farm fresh, Southern-style meal cooked by his executive chef and served from ‘Cookie,’ a custom-built commercial kitchen on a 54-foot long, 18-wheeler that has crisscrossed the country. Proceeds from the Social Club will benefit Camp Southern Ground, a 400-plus acre inclusive summer camp for ages 7-17 located in Fayetteville, Georgia.
“Food has always been a passion of mine, from owning my own restaurant on Lake Oconee, to opening the Social Club,” Brown said in a statement on the NBA’s site. “I love what food does for friends and family, it gives us all something to gather around and a centerpiece for the time we spend together. I’m excited to open Zac Brown’s Social Club and to share it with all of Atlanta.”
Rapper Killer Mike, meanwhile, will open one of his signature SWAG barbershops inside the arena, which will allow fans to get full “shaves, washes and grooming treatments” as they watch basketball games. Killer Mike – whose real name is Michael Render – made a name for himself as a member of Run the Jewels and Outkast. He opened his first SWAG Shop near his old neighborhood by the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport in hopes of improving the local community and providing sustainable opportunities for those struggling with employment, while providing a first-class experience.
“I’m very happy that the front porch of the Hawks is going to be host to a SWAG Shop,” Killer Mike told the NBA. “It really is like a dream coming true because now kids are going to be coming down early just to hang out in my shop, buy a T-shirt, get a haircut and watch the game.”
Added Koonin: “The ability to partner with Zac Brown and Killer Mike, who are both passionate about their love for the city of Atlanta and wanted to create these amazing destinations inside Philips Arena for the fans, is truly special. Zac has the innate understanding of how great music and a good meal can enhance any outing. Mike has made a lifestyle business with strong values and important impact locally.”
Global sports entertainment leader Topgolf plans to install its Swing Suite technology, a next-generation simulator lounge that groups up to 15 can rent inside Philips Arena. The Topgolf Swing Suites will aim to be social experience, the NBA said, featuring two Topgolf simulators, HDTVs, comfortable lounge seating and food and beverage service. Fans also can have a view into the arena bowl.
“How Topgolf has merged the premium experience of play, music, sports and dining into a social phenomenon is remarkable and aligns well with the vision for our arena,” Koonin said. “We are fortunate to have such talented and innovative partners to help us create a dynamic fan experience that is authentic and appealing to fans of all ages and tastes.”
Topgolf President Ron Powers said the company was “proud to partner with such a progressive organization as the Atlanta Hawks and contribute to developing a premium, high-tech, engaging arena experience for fans. Topgolf frequently hosts Atlanta Hawks players and executives at our venues in Alpharetta and Midtown, so the Topgolf Swing Suite will offer an authentic taste of the team culture.”
According to the NBA, the new-and-improved Philips Arena will also have many open, connected spaces with “unique things to see, experience and enjoy on every level, including the new Hawks Bar, the first of its kind to be on the NBA floor. Designed in the shape of the Hawks iconic Pacman logo, the bar will be close to the basketball court, offering one of the best views of the action inside the arena.
Each level’s concourse will have a redesigned look and feel with more open, social dining areas and an increased number of premium food and drink options.
Arena technology also is getting a reboot and will end up the most modern in sports, the NBA said. The new center-hung scoreboard will be over three times the size of the current model and each corner of the reimagined arena will be anchored by state-of-the-art video pavilions, with 6mm resolution throughout, allowing fans in any seat the best second screen experience in professional sports.
Another new addition will be the Hawks Meeting and Conference Center, an innovative meeting space including a 250-seat master conference room and four additional breakout rooms equipped with touch screen technology, interactive whiteboards and top-notch wireless presentation solutions and access to full top-shelf bars and amenities.
HOK, the largest U.S.-based architecture-engineering firm and second-largest interior design firm, is the leading architect on the project. The firm is also serving as lead architect of the Emory Sports Medicine Complex, the world-class sports medicine center and training center in Brookhaven set to open later this year.