Near completion in August 2017
|Former names||New Atlanta Stadium (planning/construction)|
|Address||1 AMB Drive NW|
|Public transit||Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority
Dome / GWCC / Philips Arena / CNN Center
|Owner||Georgia World Congress Center Authority|
|Operator||AMB Sports and Entertainment Group|
(expandable to 83,000)
Soccer: 42,500 (two-tier)
at least 72,035 (three tier)
|Record attendance||Football: 74,141 Atlanta Falcons-Carolina Panthers
(31 December 2017)
Soccer: 72,035 Atlanta United FC-D.C. United
(11 March 2018)
Football: 120 yd × 53.333 yd (109.7 m × 48.8 m)Soccer: 115 yd × 75 yd (105 m × 69 m)
|Surface||FieldTurf Revolution 360|
|Broke ground||May 19, 2014|
|Opened||August 26, 2017|
|Construction cost||$1.6 billion (projected)|
Goode Van Slyke
Stanley Beaman & Sears
|Project manager||Darden & Company |
|Structural engineer||BuroHappold Engineering/Hoberman|
|General contractor||HHRM JV (Comprising Hunt Construction Group, Holder Construction, H. J. Russell & Co. & C. D. Moody Construction Co.)|
|Atlanta Falcons (NFL) (2017-present)
Atlanta United FC (MLS) (2017-present)
Peach Bowl (NCAA) (2018-present)
Celebration Bowl (NCAA) (2017-present)
The Mercedes-Benz Stadium is a multi-purpose retractable roof stadium located in Atlanta, Georgia. The home of the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL) and the Atlanta United FC of Major League Soccer (MLS), it replaced the adjacent NFL indoor arena Georgia Dome (now demolished), the Falcons' home stadium from 1992 through 2016. Mercedes-Benz stadium holds the record of the world's largest halo board and is one of few football stadiums with retractable roofs.
The stadium is owned by the state of Georgia through the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, and operated by AMB Group, the parent organization of the Falcons and Atlanta United. The total cost was estimated at $1.6 billion, as of June 2016. The stadium officially opened on August 26, 2017 with a Falcons preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals, despite the retractable roof system being incomplete at the time.
In May 2010, it was reported by multiple news outlets that the Atlanta Falcons were interested in demolishing the Georgia Dome and replacing it with a newly constructed open-air stadium. The team was pursuing a new stadium because of the team's desire to play outdoors, as well as Falcons team owner Arthur Blank's interest in hosting another Super Bowl. The stadium was also pursued as a possible bid for a venue of an upcoming FIFA World Cup.
Kansas City-based architectural firm Populous released comprehensive plans for the proposed stadium in February 2011. Populous' early cost estimate for the project was $700 million. According to the master plan, the stadium would have a maximum capacity of 71,000, but can expand to 75,000 for special events such as the Super Bowl. It will also feature multiple club levels, suites and exhibition area.
In April 2012, Populous released a new price estimate of $947.7 million, which was significantly higher than the previous proposal of $700 million. In April 2012, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that if a deal is reached, the new stadium's construction would be expected to begin in 2014, with the Falcons to begin regular-season play in 2017. The proposed location of the new stadium is a large parking lot in Atlanta's Vine City neighborhood, which is less than a mile north of the Georgia Dome's current location. Once construction is complete, the Georgia Dome would subsequently be demolished.
On August 24, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that an official deal could be reached on the construction of a new stadium by the end of 2012. They also reported on September 10 that Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed said site improvements could likely bump the total cost to $1.2 billion; however, that does not increase the actual building cost, which still remains at an estimated $948 million.
On December 10, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, in a unanimous decision, approved the blueprint and most of the agreement terms for the new stadium plans. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, the term sheet is non-binding and changes could be made at any time as regards stadium construction. Stadium location, however, is yet to be worked out; proposed locations being reported are within walking distance of the Georgia Dome, with one site located one-half mile north, and the other one block directly south, at the one of the stadium's existing parking lots. The project made national headlines for the first time in 2012 on December 15, with team owner Arthur Blank stating in The New York Times that he would rather a new stadium be constructed than a "remodeling job" of the Georgia Dome.
During a January 10, 2013 press conference, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed expressed his optimism and confidence in the construction of the new stadium; he also mentioned the possibility of the new stadium helping the city compete for its first Major League Soccer team.
On March 7, 2013, the Atlanta Falcons and the city of Atlanta agreed to build the new downtown stadium. The maximum public contribution for the project is $200 million, coming from the hotel-motel tax in Atlanta and unincorporated Fulton County. The Atlanta City Council officially approved the stadium on March 19, 2013. The council voted, 11-4, in favor of the use of city hotel-motel taxes to pay $200 million toward construction costs and potentially several times that toward costs of financing, maintaining and operating the stadium through 2050. On May 21, 2013, the NFL approved a $200 million loan to the Falcons organization for the purpose of building the stadium.
On June 18, 2013, it was announced that the Falcons have completed a full conceptual design of the proposed new stadium, and that they have secured the initial approval to proceed with the schematic design phase. According to Doug Farrar's Shutdown Corner, "The stadium will seat approximately 70,000 people, with 180 luxury suites and 7,500 club seats." The main agency involved will be 360 Architecture, partnered with three other architectural firms.
Arthur Blank indicated the groundbreaking of the stadium would be conducted the last week of March 2014. Just after Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive was closed permanently, the Mount Vernon Baptist Church held its last Sunday service on March 9 before the historic church was demolished. Due to legal issues surrounding the issuing of bonds, the stadium did not break ground in March 2014. Instead the ground was officially broken in a ceremony led by Mayor Kasim Reed on May 19, 2014.
In a live broadcast on August 24, 2015, owner Arthur Blank announced that the new title of the stadium would be Mercedes-Benz Stadium. As the New Orleans Saints, the Falcons' archrivals in the NFC South, play in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, this gave the division two stadiums that were sponsored by the same company. A new logo was also introduced. Steve Cannon, then CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, also spoke at the event about the company's corporate move from New Jersey to Atlanta. Other speakers included Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
The roof design included eight triangular translucent panels, that when opened would create the illusion of a bird's wings extended. Surrounding the opening of the roof would be a halo video board that would enclose the playing surface, stretching from one of the 10-yard lines to the other and then curving around the end zones to complete the oval. Each of the eight panels operates on two straight, parallel rails; one rail is responsible for moving the panel while the other rail stabilizes the panel.
In January 2015, the Falcons announced the hiring of Daktronics, a South Dakota-based firm, to build the stadium's electronics display. The announced features included a circular 58-by-1,100-foot (18 by 335 m) circular LED board that would ring the opening of the stadium's roof, and would be "three times as large as the current largest single display board in the NFL" installed at EverBank Field in Jacksonville (also built by Daktronics). In addition, the company installed more than 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2) of other LED boards, including field-level advertising boards for soccer games.
The design included a 100-yard bar that would stretch the length of the football field in the upper concourse, along with a fantasy football lounge and premium club seating at field level, behind the teams' benches.
The stadium also incorporated contemporary art into its interior and exterior design, with over 180 specially commissioned works, including pieces by Nari Ward, Hank Willis Thomas, and Steven and William Ladd. The centerpiece of the art collection was to be Gábor Miklós Sz?ke's steel sculpture "Rise Up," which the artist claimed would be the largest freestanding bird sculpture in the world. The falcon, perched atop a 13-foot-tall bronze football, is 41 feet high, with a wingspan of 70 feet. The over-73,000-pound artwork, stands in front of the stadium, and as tall as a four-story building.
Architect Bill Johnson said the circular opening in the roof was inspired by the Roman Pantheon ("Pantheon" was also the working name for the building design). The roof was designed to be made of a clear, lightweight polymer material that can adjust its opacity to control light, and much of the exterior will be clear polymer or glass to allow views to the outside. The middle concourse and upper bowl were eliminated in the east end zone to allow for an unobstructed view of the Atlanta skyline.
Atlanta United FC General Manager Jim Smith said the design had "soccer in mind from the very beginning", pointing to the retracting lower bowl seats to widen the field, and mechanized curtains that limit the capacity to about 42,500 and make the stadium feel more intimate.
The stadium also includes features specific for college football use. It opened with two oversized locker rooms, each capable of housing 100 players, reflecting the much larger size of college football rosters compared to those of the NFL. However, the stadium did not initially include another feature important in that context--staircases connecting the seats to the field, making it difficult for bands to enter the field for halftime shows (most NFL teams, including the Falcons, do not have bands). According to ESPN, "You can bet, after the  Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games exposed the oversight, the stairs are there now."
The stadium features a Chick-fil-A location, a business that famously closes on Sundays, despite its main tenant, the Falcons, playing most of their home games on Sundays. The location opens when the Falcons have a Monday night or Thursday night home game, as well as non-Sunday home games of Atlanta United FC and other events at the stadium. On Sundays, the digital signs will be flipped and concessionaire Levy Restaurants will sell non-branded food and drinks at the location.
The Mercedes-Benz Stadium's projected opening date was delayed three times due to the complexity of the eight-panel retractable roof. The stadium was originally intended to open on March 1, 2017; however, the opening date was later delayed to June 1, 2017, then to July 30, 2017, and then to August 26, 2017. Steve Cannon, CEO of the Atlanta Falcons' parent company AMB Group, stated that the Falcons' preseason schedule and the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Games would not be affected by the new opening date; however, three of Atlanta United's matches would be affected. The July 30 game against Orlando City SC was moved to Atlanta United's interim home of Bobby Dodd Stadium for July 29 while two home matches scheduled in August were moved to later dates. Additionally, the Georgia Dome's demolition was put on hold until the new stadium's certificate of occupancy could be issued. On June 9, 2017, stadium officials announced that they were confident that Mercedes-Benz Stadium would open as scheduled, and demolition of the Georgia Dome had resumed, and the Dome was demolished on November 20, 2017.
On July 25, 2017, stadium officials reported that the roof would be in the closed position during the Falcons' preseason games and the Chick-fil-A Kickoff games while contractors continue to fine tune the roof to allow all eight panels to work in sync. Falcons' President Rich McKay also stated that the roof would remain closed whenever outside temperatures exceed 80 °F (27 °C). On August 16, 2017, WXIA reported that construction of the retractable roof system was intentionally delayed by stadium and construction officials to ensure the roof's long term operability and to ensure that other parts of the stadium would be completed on time.
On September 10, 2017, the Falcons announced that, contrary to earlier plans, the stadium roof would in fact be open during the Falcons home opener on September 17 against the Green Bay Packers if weather permitted. On October 6, 2017, stadium officials announced that the roof would be opened, weather permitting, for Atlanta United's regular season finale against Toronto FC on October 22; stadium officials also stated that the roof would remain closed for the remainder of the Falcons' regular season as well as for any home matches hosted by Atlanta United during the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs as contractors continue to work on fully mechanizing the roof.
Hoping to address concerns of overcrowding at the ingress and egress areas of the stadium, stadium officials announced that they plan to add several more doors to the stadium. Overcrowding and congestion was a frequent concern and complaint from fans attending major events during the stadiums first year of operation. Fans attending the College Football National Championship game reported significant delays in both entering and exiting the stadium, with some reporting wait times that exceeded 45 minutes to get out of the stadium at the completion of the game.
A pedestrian Bridge, that will provide access from parking lots and a MARTA station located off of Northside Dr., is currently under construction. When completed, the bridge will allow pedestrians a direct path from the Vine City MARTA station to the west side entrance into the stadium.
Several reports of the roof leaking during the stadium's inaugural season have caused some issues for the stadium's design team. During the College Football National Championship Game in January 2018, several media outlets reported a significant leak that appeared to be occurring just over the field of play near the 25-yard line. Bill Hancock, College Football Playoff Executive Director, said that he and his team had been made aware of the issue concerning water leaking from the roof and that he believed that the issue did not affect the field of play during the game. Neither team competing in the game reported any issues with the playing surface.
Stadium officials clarified after the initial leaks that were reported back in October 2017 that the issue was not a "leak" but rather a "few drops of water" that were falling from the roof around isolated parts of the stadium. Officials stated that the issue was due to the fact that the roof was still not fully mechanized yet, and that the issues would be fixed before the Falcons' 2018 season. They also stated that the issues were common for newly constructed stadiums with retractable roofs.
Since the retractable roof was one of the major features and design points of the stadium, some of the problems with the roof have been magnified in the stadium's first year of operation. The roof, which is supposed to open in as little as 12 minutes with the push of a button, was not fully operational by the time the stadium primary tenants, the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta United FC, season's began. The roof was required to be mechanically opened, which was a very time consuming process. As such, the roof was only opened twice in its first year of use, once for an Atlanta Falcons game - a Sunday Night Football game against the Green Bay Packers on September 17, 2017 and a nationally televised MLS soccer game, when the Atlanta United FC hosted Toronto FC in a sold out game of more than 70,000 fans on October 22, 2017.
However, President of the Atlanta Falcons, Rich McKay told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he expects all issues with the roof to be completely resolved before the Atlanta Falcons season starts in 2018. McKay said he expects the fixes to allow the stadium to be used as a more "open air" environment for Falcons home games. "The roof is being worked on as we speak and yes we expect the roof to be fully operational by football season, if not well before," McKay told the AP. "Fully operational means you will see us go to much more of an open configuration as we designed at the beginning. When it's ready to go, we'll be open depending on weather."
On May 29, 2018, the roof was opened for the first time since October 2017 for construction purposes. Stadium officials stated that the roof would be open for 10 days, regardless of weather, to complete work on automating the roof. After the 10-day construction period, an unspecified time frame would be required for final commissioning work, after of which, operation of the roof would be turned over to stadium officials.
In December 2014, the Georgia World Congress Center's board of governors approved a resolution to raise the cost of the stadium to $1.2 billion. The stadium was initially slated to cost $1 billion, then rose to $1.2 billion in October 2013.
The city has agreed to contribute $200 million in stadium bonds, but with additional tax revenues and with the state of Georgia contributing $40 million for parking expansion, public spending is expected to reach near $600 million.
In January 2015, the Falcons announced the sale of personal seat licenses (PSL) costing up to $45,000 per seat, depending on the section of the stadium. The most expensive tickets are priced at $385 per game, in addition to one-time PSL fees, for the first three years.
On August 21, 2015, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Mercedes-Benz would acquire the naming rights for the stadium, and this was later confirmed by a press conference at the stadium site on August 24. Under the stadium deal with the city of Atlanta and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, the Falcons organization controls the stadium's naming rights and receives all related revenue. Then-Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon, who would subsequently join the Falcons' organization in 2016 as CEO of AMB Group, stated that the sponsorship would last 27 years, calling it the largest marketing deal in Mercedes-Benz' history, but Cannon would not disclose the full value of the deal. Mercedes-Benz also holds a 10-year naming rights contract for the former Louisiana Superdome signed in 2011.
In April 2014, the Peach Bowl, one of the six rotating semifinal sites for the College Football Playoff, announced it would move to the new stadium from the Georgia Dome beginning with the 2017 season. In years when the Peach Bowl does not host a semi-final College Football Playoff Championship game, the Peach Bowl will host one the College Football Playoff New Year's Six bowl games.
The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is an annual college football game played on the opening weekend of the NCAA Division I FBS season in Atlanta, Georgia. The event coincides with Labor Day weekend in the United States. From its inception in 2008 until 2016, the game was held in the Georgia Dome. The Georgia Dome's replacement, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, hosts the game starting in 2017.
On September 8, 2015, it was announced that the SEC Championship Game would be held at the stadium beginning in 2017 and remain there until 2027. The SEC Championship Game dates back to 1992 and is the oldest conference championship game in college football. In 2017, Georgia and Auburn would meet in Mercedes Benz Stadium, in what would be a rematch from early regular season meeting. Looking to avenge their loss from week 11, Georgia would go on to defeat Auburn 28-7 and claim the 2017 SEC Conference Championship.
On November 4, 2015, it was announced that the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship would be held at the stadium on January 8, 2018, beating out Houston, Miami Gardens, and Santa Clara. On Sunday December 3, 2017, four teams were selected by the College Football Playoff Committee to compete in the College Football Playoff Semifinals, with the winners of both semi-final games meeting in Atlanta on Monday January 8, 2018. In order of seeding the teams selected were: Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama. Both Georgia and Alabama would advance from the semi-final round and for the second time in the BCS/CFP era, two teams from the same conference (SEC) would play for the national championship. Alabama would defeat Georgia 26 - 23 in overtime.
The inaugural concert at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, featuring Garth Brooks, received widespread scorn, including demands for refunds, due to the reported abysmal acoustics that many attendees deemed unfit for concert sound. The stadium authority stated that plans are underway to help improve the acoustical quality of the stadium.