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.
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.