SBD/August 16, 2017/Facilities

Mercedes-Benz Stadium On Track For Aug. 26 Opening, Though More Work Remains For Roof

Mercedes-Benz Stadium "looks just about ready for action," and stadium officials "expect more than 50,000 Falcons and Atlanta United season-ticket holders to attend an open house Saturday" before the stadium's official opening with a Cardinals-Falcons preseason game on Aug. 26, according to Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. About 10 NFL staffers yesterday were on site at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, making a "final test of the stadium's readiness for football by checking many aspects of game day operations." Stadium officials yesterday showed off some of the "signature features of the 2-million-square-foot building," such as the "massive halo-shaped video board, the 101-foot-tall video column and the wall of windows framing a view of the city behind one end zone." There was "no new information about when the complex and problematic retractable roof can be opened for events." The roof yesterday was "in the closed position," where it will "remain through Aug. 26." The plan is to "slowly open and re-close the roof in the days after that to continue testing." But officials have "indicated it will be at least October before the roof is sufficiently automated to be opened for events." Stadium project exec Bill Darden said that he "expects games to be played with the roof open 'this year in the fall sometime ... for both soccer and football" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 8/16). Falcons President & CEO Rich McKay said of the roof, "We knew it would be complex. It's probably been as complex or more than we thought. It's one of a kind. It's going to take some more work." AMB Group Senior VP & General Counsel Mike Egan said that engineers are "still working out some bugs to ensure the roof can be opened or closed in 11 minutes." The AP's Paul Newberry notes the stadium looks "ready for business after being delayed three times because of the ongoing roof issues" (AP, 8/16).

A REAL GEORGIA PEACH: NFL Network's Tiffany Blackmon noted she was "blown away by all the stadium's unique features." When fans get inside the stadium, their eyes will be "directed up to the one-of-a-kind halo board." Blackmon: "Look even higher than that, and above your head is the eight-piece retractable roof, each panel weighing 500 tons. The stadium seats 71,000, and those fans can enjoy friendly concession pricing and state of the art Wi-Fi.” McKay said, “We tried to build a building and put the elements into the building that truly transformed the fan experience. We don't say that in a corny way, we say it in a real way. Hopefully they’re going to say that, not just from the exterior architecture, but from the experience they have within” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 8/15).
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