Will there be room for basketball in renovated Philips Arena?

The computer’s idea of what the new four-chair barbershop at Philips Arena will look like. (Hawks Photo)

Let’s say I go in for a haircut. Granted, that is increasingly unnecessary, but stay with me here.

All I want is a good haircut. Oh, look, there’s a basketball game going on just outside the barbershop. And what a terrific game. High energy, competitive on both ends, the works. So very enjoyable to watch through the front window. But I come out looking like a Nick Nolte mug shot. Should I be happy?

There’s a point in there, somewhere. Let’s reverse that scenario into something that actually is taking shape downtown.

Photos: What will renovated Philips Arena look like

The $190 million Philips Arena renovation – an HGTV series on steroids – is going to include all sorts of shiny objects that have nothing to do with the Hawks or the pursuit of that elusive first conference championship.

There’ll be a TopGolf swing simulator.

A courtside bar. Would you like a dash of Mike Muscala sweat in that margarita?

Some terrific new dining options including Zac Brown signature grub.

And, yes, even a barbershop, with my good friend Killer Mike’s name on it (OK, I have no clue who that is).

Let’s say all I want to do at Philips is to see a good, meaningful basketball game. If I get a flattering haircut but the Hawks stumble about and remain wedged in the seventh playoff position, should I be happy?

This is the puzzle facing today’s fans as their sporting palaces are all being transformed into high-class carnival midways. Are you entertained by all the peripheral fun, enough so that the core product matters any less? And what is the tipping point, when do the distractions reach such a level that they devalue what happens on the field of play?

Personally, I don’t understand why you would go to an NBA game – or any sporting event – to stray so far from the original purpose as to work on hitting a fade off the tee or to attend to personal grooming. And if I go to a Hawks stylist does that mean I have to get the Dennis Schroder dye job?

But the new arena/stadium designers don’t care about my type. Such makeovers are subtly aimed at the millennial consumer, a generation they presume to be hummingbirds, incapable of staying with one blossom for more than a few seconds at a time.

It’s fine that the Hawks are the latest to broaden their entertainment options. It is the future, and you either keep pace or perish.

But I’d like to envision a period when these sideshows go begging for customers. Because who has time for driving golf balls on a virtual hole or getting a trim when there’s a great game to watch, and you don’t want to miss a minute. You know, what you bought your ticket for in the first place.

Reader Comments 0

Race Burly
Race Burly

Great piece Steve, you nailed it.

Starr M. Williams
Starr M. Williams

 our roomate's sister in law gets 67 an hour from home... she's been without work for 3 months... last month her income was 19667 just working on the laptop for a few hours a week. go to this link



Two thumbs up! I have the same complaint about going to see the Braves play. Doesn't anyone go to the ballpark to see the game anymore? The old Atlanta-Fulton County stadium might not have been great but at least the focus was on the ballgame, not all the sideshows.


At the barbershop, will they give me a cut with some new looks that the ladies love? I'm tired of the same thing I get at my local place. 


I agree with everything on here except for the idea that the Philip's Arena remodel is targeting millennials. Millennials don't have the time or money for these dumb peripheral attractions. 

I don't know too many millennials who will be interested in a double, triple (quadruple?) priced average-quality haircut while watching a live basketball game. I also don't know many millennials who want to play golf period, let alone while watching a live basketball game...that would be the baby boomers who like golf. The courtside bar would probably be popular amongst millennials...at least the hand full who could afford it.

Presumably some of these additional attraction will be open on non-game days, or at least long before and after the game actually takes place. That is what this stuff is really about. The people who own Philips Arena have 2.5 hours 41-53 nights out of the year to make money off of basketball fans. If venue owners can get people in the door just a couple hours before the game (to play screen golf or whatever), then they can double the amount of money those people spend on food, drinks and other services.


If adding all of this stuff keeps people coming to the games and out of my way while I'm actually watching the game, then I'm all good with it. But I'll keep getting my hair cuts from Bruce the barber.