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Arthur Blank
Owner and Chairman of Atlanta Falcons

Biography

Arthur Blank understands what it takes to win in the ultra-competitive, ever-changing world of the National Football League.

Since hiring the duo of General Manager Thomas Dimitroff and Head Coach Mike Smith in 2008, the Falcons have been one of the NFL’s most consistent teams in the league. The team’s impressive six-year run includes two number one seeds in the NFC playoffs (2010, 2012), a team-record three consecutive playoffs berths (2010-12), four double-digit winning seasons (2008, 2010-12), two 13-wins seasons (2010, 2012), two NFC South Division championships (2010, 2012), and 20 players who have been named to the NFC Pro Bowl team.

Perhaps that’s why Blank didn’t panic following the 2013 season when Atlanta slipped to 4-12. The year before, the high-flying Falcons raced to an 8-0 start and cruised to an NFC-best 13-3 record, the 2012 NFC South Division title and an emotional come-from-behind NFC Divisional Playoff win against the Seattle Seahawks. The very next week, Atlanta hosted the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome for the first time in franchise history.

As disappointing as 2013 was for Blank, his Falcons, and passionate fans all over Georgia, Blank exercised resolve when he was asked about his mindset following last season.

“This is a tough and competitive league,” Blank said. “No one connected with our organization was happy about how things transpired for our team last season. We didn’t perform very well for a variety of reasons, including injuries, player assessment miscalculations and other factors that led to us not playing the way we needed to play. So during our offseason diagnostic review of our team, we got to work. Instead of pointing fingers, we analyzed and identified the areas where we needed to improve, and we put together a plan that allowed us to secure the players and coaches we needed. You don’t just rearrange what you already have when things don’t go well. That’s not in my DNA, and it’s certainly not in Smitty’s and Thomas’ DNA.’’

During the offseason, the Falcons committed to being bigger, faster and stronger than they were the year before. Some of this was achieved in the weight room, and some of it through free agency and the NFL Draft.

The bottom line was a simple one in Blank’s estimation.

“As the owner, it’s my job to listen to our personnel and coaching staffs and to provide the resources and support to help our team return to the national stage,” Blank offered. “We’ve been one of the top teams in the league for the past few years. We’ve been a big part of playoff discussions that are reserved for the NFL’s elite teams. We’ve got the internal infrastructure in place to quickly get back to where we belong.  I view last year as being a speed bump. I like what Thomas said earlier this offseason: ‘We’ll be back with a vengeance.’”

Blank’s confidence in his football team is well founded.

Since taking what many long-time NFL observers called a calculated risk in 2008 when he hired a first-time general manager who, in turn, hired a first-time head coach, Blank’s perceived gamble is now a widely imitated prototype. Several NFL clubs subsequently followed Atlanta’s progressive model to recalibrate their football front offices.  In addition, Atlanta’s sound formula of drafting and acquiring good players who are then turned over and tutored by a veteran coaching staff has produced a Falcons team that will enter the 2014 season with high expectations.

Whether it’s selecting players in the draft or adding them to the roster via free agency, the Falcons believe in being collaborative.

“Thomas and Mike have been together for six seasons now, and I can tell you that they approach building a football team through similar lenses,” Blank noted. “That doesn’t mean they agree all of the time – they don’t nor should they – but they both share a common vision for the long-term success of our football team.”

IT TAKES A TEAM
Since Blank acquired the Falcons in 2002, the team has made the playoffs six times in 12 seasons and are poised to significantly bounce back in 2014 following a productive offseason of retooling the roster. Moreover, since the start of the 2008 season, the Falcons have established themselves as one of the most dominant teams in professional football, compiling 60 wins – behind only New Orleans (63) and Green Bay (61) in the NFC.

Blank’s proven ability to create successful business models has also brought about unprecedented success in the Falcons front office. Three years before he purchased the Falcons, the team averaged about 37,000 season ticket holders per year. Since 2002, the Falcons have never sold fewer than 50,000 season tickets in any year.  In addition, during the same period of time, the club has sold out 94 of 96 regular season games and is currently riding a streak of six consecutive sellout seasons.

“I have been blessed here with a great team of people,” Blank said. “I have always believed in bringing the best people together, creating the right environment, giving them the resources they need, being a cheerleader for them, and making sure the culture is set in place before getting out of the way and allowing them to make the decisions and do what they need to do.”

Blank is also a key contributor to many of the NFL's major committees. He currently chairs the NFL Audit Committee and Compensation Committee, and he is an active member of the league’s Finance, Legislative, and Diversity committees.

The sustainability and relevance of the Falcons has provided numerous opportunities for the franchise and city of Atlanta to be showcased on nationally-televised games. With two prime time games on national television this season, Atlanta will have participated in 15 prime time regular season games over the past four years.

“Our exposure through prime time games over the years speaks directly to the outstanding performances of our players and coaches,” Blank said. “Make no mistake, however, that our larger goal is to perform under the worldwide spotlight of the Super Bowl.  There are 31 other teams out there that want the Lombardi Trophy just as much as we do, so we have to stay diligent to remain a relevant team.”

NEW ATLANTA STADIUM PROJECT
In May 2014, Blank and the Falcons broke ground on a new retractable roof stadium that will open in 2017. In addition to being a new home for the Falcons, the stadium will also be home to a new Major League Soccer team, which was awarded to Blank in April 2014.  The new MLS team begins play in the spring of 2017. The facility will also host other premier sports and entertainment events throughout the year.

“Our goal is for the new building to become a destination site for sports and entertainment fans all over the world,” Blank stated. “We not only want the new stadium to become a landmark for the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia, we want to be a game changer when it comes to stadium design and the guest experience inside the building.”

The new stadium provides an enhanced opportunity to attract new marquee events to the city of Atlanta, such as the FIFA World Cup, College Football National Championship Game and, of course, a Super Bowl.

“Atlanta has all of the attributes needed to successfully host a Super Bowl,” Blank said. “The new stadium adds another premier element to a successful bid for a future game.”

MAKING A DIFFERENCE/IMPROVING LIVES
Starting with The Home Depot and continuing with his current businesses – the Falcons, PGA TOUR Superstore, Mountain Sky Guest Ranch, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and MLS Atlanta – Blank’s business and personal values underscore the importance of giving back to, and becoming part of, the community.

During his 23 years with The Home Depot, the company donated more than $113 million to communities, and Home Depot associates provided hundreds of thousands of personal volunteer time.
In addition, since its inception in 1995 The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has granted more than $300 million to charitable organizations, with approximately two-thirds of the total focused on metro Atlanta, including the Historic Westside neighborhoods of Vine City, English Avenue and Castleberry Hill.

In 2013, Blank publicly committed to making further significant investments in these communities by creating the Westside Neighborhood Prosperity Fund, which will invest in catalytic projects that ignite positive change and improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods surrounding the Georgia Dome and future home of the new Atlanta stadium. The foundation has pledged $15 million to contribute to large-scale transformational projects that result in lasting impact for community residents.

Earlier this year, Blank’s foundation announced its first major project, Westside Works, a long-term neighborhood-based program focused on creating job training and employment opportunities for residents.  Westside Works has committed to placing at least 100 men and woman into construction jobs during its first 12 months of operation.

"We've been committed to the Westside neighborhoods for many years,” Blank noted. “Building a new stadium is the relatively easy part of our overall project in that area; the larger challenge is in having a positive and meaningful impact on the surrounding communities in the process.  My family, along with the Falcons, feels a sense of responsibility, as current and future neighbors, to be part of that positive change.”

Community engagement is prevalent at the Falcons, as well.  The Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation invests in innovative approaches to improve youth fitness and reduce childhood obesity across Georgia. Since 2002, the foundation has awarded more than $20 million in grants to non-profit organizations throughout Georgia. In 2005, the Youth Foundation launched its Falcons Fitness Zones to help kids become more physically active and make healthier eating choices.  In collaboration with select partner organizations, the program inspires more than 10,000 kids a year to engage in a combined one million hours of physical activity.

Additionally, Atlanta Falcons players, coaches, cheerleaders, and associates remain among the most active community citizens in the NFL, contributing an average of 3,000 hours of their collective time each season. Much of this time is spent participating in Atlanta Falcons community relations programs and initiatives that support a variety of issues and activities, including health and fitness, breast cancer awareness, combating hunger, the development of youth/prep football, Salute to Service and outreach in underserved communities.

“It’s important to me personally that everyone in our family of businesses understands our collective responsibility to contribute to the communities in which we all live and work,” Blank stressed.

HOW IT ALL BEGAN
A native of Flushing, N.Y., Blank attended Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, where he competed on the football, baseball, and track teams. He received his bachelor of science degree in business administration with distinction from Babson College, where he was active in a variety of extracurricular activities. He co-founded The Home Depot in 1978 and retired from the company as Co-Chairman in 2001. At the time of his retirement, The Home Depot was a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and one of Fortune magazine’s “Global Most Admired Companies.” During Blank’s last year as CEO of the company, The Home Depot ranked first in social responsibility in an annual survey conducted by Harris Interactive, Inc.

Blank is recognized throughout the country for his personal and professional achievements. In 2012, he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Georgia.  In 2011, he was the recipient of the Freeing Voices, Changing Lives Award from the American Institute for Stuttering, and in 2010, he was recognized by the Council for Quality Growth for his philanthropic endeavors as well as his significant contributions to economic development and quality of life. In 2008, Blank received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of South Carolina-Bluffton. In 2006, he was named a Distinguished American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, which annually recognizes an individual who has utilized his or her talents to attain great success in business, private life, or public service.

Also in 2006, Blank was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame, and was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities from Furman University. In 2005, he was named National Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young. In 2003, for the second time in three years, Blank was named Georgia’s Most Respected CEO by Georgia Trend magazine, and in 2002, he was inducted into Georgia State University’s Business Hall of Fame.

Blank serves on a number of boards including the Board of Trustees of The Carter Center, Inc.; the Board of Trustees of The Cooper Institute; and the Board of Directors of Cox Enterprises, Inc.

Blank has six children and three grandchildren. A strong believer in work-life balance, Blank makes time daily for working out and spending time with his family.
Arthur Blank understands what it takes to win in the ultra-competitive, ever-changing world of the National Football League.

Since hiring the duo of General Manager Thomas Dimitroff and Head Coach Mike Smith in 2008, the Falcons have been one of the NFL’s most consistent teams in the league. The team’s impressive six-year run includes two number one seeds in the NFC playoffs (2010, 2012), a team-record three consecutive playoffs berths (2010-12), four double-digit winning seasons (2008, 2010-12), two 13-wins seasons (2010, 2012), two NFC South Division championships (2010, 2012), and 20 players who have been named to the NFC Pro Bowl team.

Perhaps that’s why Blank didn’t panic following the 2013 season when Atlanta slipped to 4-12. The year before, the high-flying Falcons raced to an 8-0 start and cruised to an NFC-best 13-3 record, the 2012 NFC South Division title and an emotional come-from-behind NFC Divisional Playoff win against the Seattle Seahawks. The very next week, Atlanta hosted the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome for the first time in franchise history.

As disappointing as 2013 was for Blank, his Falcons, and passionate fans all over Georgia, Blank exercised resolve when he was asked about his mindset following last season.

“This is a tough and competitive league,” Blank said. “No one connected with our organization was happy about how things transpired for our team last season. We didn’t perform very well for a variety of reasons, including injuries, player assessment miscalculations and other factors that led to us not playing the way we needed to play. So during our offseason diagnostic review of our team, we got to work. Instead of pointing fingers, we analyzed and identified the areas where we needed to improve, and we put together a plan that allowed us to secure the players and coaches we needed. You don’t just rearrange what you already have when things don’t go well. That’s not in my DNA, and it’s certainly not in Smitty’s and Thomas’ DNA.’’

During the offseason, the Falcons committed to being bigger, faster and stronger than they were the year before. Some of this was achieved in the weight room, and some of it through free agency and the NFL Draft.

The bottom line was a simple one in Blank’s estimation.

“As the owner, it’s my job to listen to our personnel and coaching staffs and to provide the resources and support to help our team return to the national stage,” Blank offered. “We’ve been one of the top teams in the league for the past few years. We’ve been a big part of playoff discussions that are reserved for the NFL’s elite teams. We’ve got the internal infrastructure in place to quickly get back to where we belong.  I view last year as being a speed bump. I like what Thomas said earlier this offseason: ‘We’ll be back with a vengeance.’”

Blank’s confidence in his football team is well founded.

Since taking what many long-time NFL observers called a calculated risk in 2008 when he hired a first-time general manager who, in turn, hired a first-time head coach, Blank’s perceived gamble is now a widely imitated prototype. Several NFL clubs subsequently followed Atlanta’s progressive model to recalibrate their football front offices.  In addition, Atlanta’s sound formula of drafting and acquiring good players who are then turned over and tutored by a veteran coaching staff has produced a Falcons team that will enter the 2014 season with high expectations.

Whether it’s selecting players in the draft or adding them to the roster via free agency, the Falcons believe in being collaborative.

“Thomas and Mike have been together for six seasons now, and I can tell you that they approach building a football team through similar lenses,” Blank noted. “That doesn’t mean they agree all of the time – they don’t nor should they – but they both share a common vision for the long-term success of our football team.”

IT TAKES A TEAM
Since Blank acquired the Falcons in 2002, the team has made the playoffs six times in 12 seasons and are poised to significantly bounce back in 2014 following a productive offseason of retooling the roster. Moreover, since the start of the 2008 season, the Falcons have established themselves as one of the most dominant teams in professional football, compiling 60 wins – behind only New Orleans (63) and Green Bay (61) in the NFC.

Blank’s proven ability to create successful business models has also brought about unprecedented success in the Falcons front office. Three years before he purchased the Falcons, the team averaged about 37,000 season ticket holders per year. Since 2002, the Falcons have never sold fewer than 50,000 season tickets in any year.  In addition, during the same period of time, the club has sold out 94 of 96 regular season games and is currently riding a streak of six consecutive sellout seasons.

“I have been blessed here with a great team of people,” Blank said. “I have always believed in bringing the best people together, creating the right environment, giving them the resources they need, being a cheerleader for them, and making sure the culture is set in place before getting out of the way and allowing them to make the decisions and do what they need to do.”

Blank is also a key contributor to many of the NFL's major committees. He currently chairs the NFL Audit Committee and Compensation Committee, and he is an active member of the league’s Finance, Legislative, and Diversity committees.

The sustainability and relevance of the Falcons has provided numerous opportunities for the franchise and city of Atlanta to be showcased on nationally-televised games. With two prime time games on national television this season, Atlanta will have participated in 15 prime time regular season games over the past four years.

“Our exposure through prime time games over the years speaks directly to the outstanding performances of our players and coaches,” Blank said. “Make no mistake, however, that our larger goal is to perform under the worldwide spotlight of the Super Bowl.  There are 31 other teams out there that want the Lombardi Trophy just as much as we do, so we have to stay diligent to remain a relevant team.”

NEW ATLANTA STADIUM PROJECT
In May 2014, Blank and the Falcons broke ground on a new retractable roof stadium that will open in 2017. In addition to being a new home for the Falcons, the stadium will also be home to a new Major League Soccer team, which was awarded to Blank in April 2014.  The new MLS team begins play in the spring of 2017. The facility will also host other premier sports and entertainment events throughout the year.

“Our goal is for the new building to become a destination site for sports and entertainment fans all over the world,” Blank stated. “We not only want the new stadium to become a landmark for the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia, we want to be a game changer when it comes to stadium design and the guest experience inside the building.”

The new stadium provides an enhanced opportunity to attract new marquee events to the city of Atlanta, such as the FIFA World Cup, College Football National Championship Game and, of course, a Super Bowl.

“Atlanta has all of the attributes needed to successfully host a Super Bowl,” Blank said. “The new stadium adds another premier element to a successful bid for a future game.”

MAKING A DIFFERENCE/IMPROVING LIVES
Starting with The Home Depot and continuing with his current businesses – the Falcons, PGA TOUR Superstore, Mountain Sky Guest Ranch, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and MLS Atlanta – Blank’s business and personal values underscore the importance of giving back to, and becoming part of, the community.

During his 23 years with The Home Depot, the company donated more than $113 million to communities, and Home Depot associates provided hundreds of thousands of personal volunteer time.
In addition, since its inception in 1995 The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has granted more than $300 million to charitable organizations, with approximately two-thirds of the total focused on metro Atlanta, including the Historic Westside neighborhoods of Vine City, English Avenue and Castleberry Hill.

In 2013, Blank publicly committed to making further significant investments in these communities by creating the Westside Neighborhood Prosperity Fund, which will invest in catalytic projects that ignite positive change and improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods surrounding the Georgia Dome and future home of the new Atlanta stadium. The foundation has pledged $15 million to contribute to large-scale transformational projects that result in lasting impact for community residents.

Earlier this year, Blank’s foundation announced its first major project, Westside Works, a long-term neighborhood-based program focused on creating job training and employment opportunities for residents.  Westside Works has committed to placing at least 100 men and woman into construction jobs during its first 12 months of operation.

"We've been committed to the Westside neighborhoods for many years,” Blank noted. “Building a new stadium is the relatively easy part of our overall project in that area; the larger challenge is in having a positive and meaningful impact on the surrounding communities in the process.  My family, along with the Falcons, feels a sense of responsibility, as current and future neighbors, to be part of that positive change.”

Community engagement is prevalent at the Falcons, as well.  The Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation invests in innovative approaches to improve youth fitness and reduce childhood obesity across Georgia. Since 2002, the foundation has awarded more than $20 million in grants to non-profit organizations throughout Georgia. In 2005, the Youth Foundation launched its Falcons Fitness Zones to help kids become more physically active and make healthier eating choices.  In collaboration with select partner organizations, the program inspires more than 10,000 kids a year to engage in a combined one million hours of physical activity.

Additionally, Atlanta Falcons players, coaches, cheerleaders, and associates remain among the most active community citizens in the NFL, contributing an average of 3,000 hours of their collective time each season. Much of this time is spent participating in Atlanta Falcons community relations programs and initiatives that support a variety of issues and activities, including health and fitness, breast cancer awareness, combating hunger, the development of youth/prep football, Salute to Service and outreach in underserved communities.

“It’s important to me personally that everyone in our family of businesses understands our collective responsibility to contribute to the communities in which we all live and work,” Blank stressed.

HOW IT ALL BEGAN
A native of Flushing, N.Y., Blank attended Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, where he competed on the football, baseball, and track teams. He received his bachelor of science degree in business administration with distinction from Babson College, where he was active in a variety of extracurricular activities. He co-founded The Home Depot in 1978 and retired from the company as Co-Chairman in 2001. At the time of his retirement, The Home Depot was a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and one of Fortune magazine’s “Global Most Admired Companies.” During Blank’s last year as CEO of the company, The Home Depot ranked first in social responsibility in an annual survey conducted by Harris Interactive, Inc.

Blank is recognized throughout the country for his personal and professional achievements. In 2012, he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Georgia.  In 2011, he was the recipient of the Freeing Voices, Changing Lives Award from the American Institute for Stuttering, and in 2010, he was recognized by the Council for Quality Growth for his philanthropic endeavors as well as his significant contributions to economic development and quality of life. In 2008, Blank received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of South Carolina-Bluffton. In 2006, he was named a Distinguished American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, which annually recognizes an individual who has utilized his or her talents to attain great success in business, private life, or public service.

Also in 2006, Blank was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame, and was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities from Furman University. In 2005, he was named National Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young. In 2003, for the second time in three years, Blank was named Georgia’s Most Respected CEO by Georgia Trend magazine, and in 2002, he was inducted into Georgia State University’s Business Hall of Fame.

Blank serves on a number of boards including the Board of Trustees of The Carter Center, Inc.; the Board of Trustees of The Cooper Institute; and the Board of Directors of Cox Enterprises, Inc.

Blank has six children and three grandchildren. A strong believer in work-life balance, Blank makes time daily for working out and spending time with his family.