In the 14 months since it re-opened as State Farm Arena with the So So Def anniversary concert, the downtown venue formerly known as Philips Arena has hosted 90 concerts, including a high-profile trio of shows in the lead-up to Super Bowl LIII: Aerosmith, Ludacris with Migos, Ciara, Lil Yachty and others and Bruno Mars with Cardi B (its highest-grossing show of the year, at $6.43 million).
As someone who spent a considerable amount of my life there this year, I can attest that the $200 million overhaul of the building has transformed it from serviceable sports arena to a comfortable spot that entices you to arrive early.
Why am I telling you this now? Because last year, when I wrote about my favorite venues in Atlanta, State Farm Arena had re-opened only a few weeks prior and I didn’t feel it was fair to quickly assess the venue.
It has now earned a definitive spot on my list and landed in the Top 10 for year-end numbers in music trades Pollstar and Billboard: it’s the No. 7 venue in North America and No. 18 worldwide in Pollstar’s Top 200 venues ranking and, among venues with more than 15,000 capacity, hit No. 8 on Billboard’s 2019 Boxscore chart, having sold nearly $69 million in tickets in 2019.
Here are some things that I love about State Farm Arena: There is actual seating (or standing) at actual tables to eat, the food and beverage options surpass the quality of many neighboring restaurants, and the wide, bright concourses don’t make you feel trapped inside a concrete bowl.
State Farm Arena also took a cue from neighboring Mercedes-Benz Stadium to offer fan-friendly pricing on some concession items, and even the higher-priced fare at Old Lady Gang and Zac Brown’s Social Club is reasonable by arena standards.
What I don’t love are the seats. I still wince at the tiny armrests and, depending upon the section and row, some seating isn’t amenable to anyone beyond mannequin height and width standards.
But if you have bucks to spare, the upgrades are vast between the lavish suites and five clubs, especially the sleek 268-seat Concert Club. Located directly across from an end stage (the space formerly housed RED restaurant and bar), the Concert Club is the arena equivalent of a tony airport lounge – private entrance, open bar, mini-buffet – with the addition of parking and prime seating.
It’s worth the splurge.
While I enjoyed the venue’s most-attended concert (Carrie Underwood with 15,341) and sighed with relief that Kiss didn’t set the roof on fire with its insane pyro (but they’ll have another chance in September!), neither quite made my Top 5 shows at State Farm Arena this year.
Here are the ones that did:
3. Hugh Jackman
5. Shawn Mendes
And to celebrate its first full year of operation, the crew at State Farm Arena has provided me with a pair of tickets to give away to five upcoming concerts/events.
1. “Jingle Ball” with Jonas Brothers, Niall Horan, Khalid, French Montana, Why Don't We, Lewis Capaldi and Zara Larsson on Dec. 20.
2. The “Comedy Laugh Fest” with Cedric The Entertainer, D.L. Hughley, Bruce Bruce, Nephew Tommy and Deon Cole on Dec. 29.
3. Celine Dion on Jan. 11.
4. Tool on Jan. 28.
5. Erykah Badu and Common on March 13.
Here’s the deal: I will randomly select five different winners – one for each event. The winners will pick up their tickets the day of the show at will call (you must present ID). Tickets may not be resold and are non-transferable. Also, I don’t know where you will be seated, so please don’t ask.
To enter: Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You must put the name of the show in the subject line (e.g., “Celine Dion tickets”), but nothing else. If you profess your adulation for Niall Horan or Common, I will not see your email, and thus, zero chance of winning. Please do not enter if you cannot attend and please, only one email per entry per show.
Because Jingle Ball is approaching, those entries must be received by 10 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17. I will randomly choose a winner the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 18.
For the rest of the shows, please submit your entries by 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 23.
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