At a time when we’re seeing a serious reimagining of what it means to design an NBA arena, the Atlanta Hawks unveiled a reimagining of Philips Arena that includes new social spaces and high-tech initiatives, as well as upgraded food and beverage offerings that include a floor-level bar.
The top-to-bottom transformation is being billed by the Hawks and architect HOK as the second-largest arena renovation in NBA history, behind the recent overhaul of Madison Square Garden. Construction begins on June 20 and is scheduled be finished during the 2018-2019 NBA regular season, with the Hawks playing there throughout. The cost: $192.5 million, with the Hawks agreeing to a new 18-year lease, keeping them at Philips Arena through 2046.
When the renovation is complete, fans will be able to move freely around the arena thanks to a 360-degree concourse, while sightlines should improve as the design moves from a multi-use venue (remember, the arena was built for two tenants: the Hawks and the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers) to a venue where basketball and concerts are showcased.
The biggest change fans will notice? The removal of the six-level wall of suites on one side of the arena. These will go, as well some of the traditional 20-person suites. The traditional suites will make way for flexible group areas that can be adjusted based on variable needs.
“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 Basketball Club CEO Steve Koonin said in a press statement. “Every trip to the new arena will be a great night out and an unbelievable experience.”
A Better Courtside Experience
Another first at Philips Arena: The new Hawks Bar will be the first bar on the floor in the NBA with a view of the action. Designed in the shape of the Hawks’ iconic Pacman logo, the bar will be just a handful of feet from the court. Yes, you can imagine the views from this floor-level bar.
Enhancing those views: plenty of new technology, both fan-facing and behind the scenes. For fans, a new center-hung scoreboard will be over three times the size of the current model, while each corner will be anchored by state-of-the-art video pavilions. For businesses, a Hawks Meeting and Conference Center features a 250-seat master conference room and four additional breakout rooms equipped with advanced technology – touch screens, interactive whiteboards, wireless presentation solutions – and access to top-shelf bars and other arena amenities.
Other Attractions Outside the Court
The Hawks will not be the only attraction in the arena, as the team has announced partnerships with local trendsetters in media, music and sports. There are three highlights here: a Zac Brown-inspired restaurant, a custom suites experience designed by Topgolf, and one of Killer Mike’s signature SWAG Shop barbershops.
“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,” Koonin said. “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. 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.”
Zac Brown’s Social Club
Zac Brown’s Social Club will feature a live music stage and provide a fully immersive dining experience. Brown has experience with hospitality between his “Eat & Greet” experience as part of his tours and a Southern Ground restaurant located at PNC Music Pavilion, an outdoor amphitheater in Charlotte, N.C. Proceeds from both Southern Ground and Social Club restaurants will benefit Camp Southern Ground, a 400-plus acre inclusive summer camp for ages 7-17 located in Fayetteville, GA and conceived from Brown’s own personal experience as a camp counselor growing up in Georgia.
“Food has always been a passion of mine, from owning my own restaurant on Lake Oconee, to opening the Social Club. 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,” Brown said in a press statement.
Topgolf Swing Suite
Topgolf will offer their Swing Suite simulator lounge, a social experience featuring two Topgolf simulators, HDTVs, food and beverage service, lounge seating, and a view into the arena bowl. The Swing Suites will be rented by the hour for groups of up to 15.
“Topgolf is 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,” said Topgolf Swing Suites President Ron Powers in a press statement. “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.”
Finally, we have one of the most unique spaces in an NBA arena and one you’ll see plenty on game broadcasts: a SWAG Barbershop from rapper, actor and activist Killer Mike and his wife and business partner, Shana Render. SWAG stands for “Shaves, Washes And Grooming,” the treatments offered for fans viewing games. According to the Hawks, Michael Render aka Killer Mike was born and raised in Atlanta and opened the first SWAG Shop near his old neighborhood by the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. His goal: improving the local community and providing sustainable opportunity for those struggling with employment while providing a first-class experience in an uplifting environment.
“I’m very happy that the front porch of the Hawks is going to be host to a SWAG Shop,” Killer Mike said. “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.”
Renderings courtesy Atlanta Hawks.