The Mercedes-Benz Stadium sits as Atlanta’s new downtown centerpiece. It is home to both the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United. It is also where the college football season begins and ends.
The first meaningful football game played in the new digs was a neutral site contest between Alabama and Florida State. The Mercedes-Benz Stadium will also host the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship to conclude the season.
Its modern design looks closer to European soccer stadiums than the typical NFL stadium architecture.
The new stadium sits directly next to the old Georgia Dome. According to Curbed Atlanta, the old dome will be imploded in the fall 2017. There are plans to turn the grounds into a 13-acre parking and tailgating area known as The Home Depot Backyard. It will serve as a mixed-use space on non-gamedays.
According to Forbes, Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s capacity is 83,000. However, the stadium is versatile with its flexible seating capacity that can shrink down to 43,000 for MLS matches.
Learn more about Atlanta’s newest venue.
1. The Stadium Cost $1.6 Billion to Build
According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the new stadium was originally expected to cost $1.5 billion, but ended up reaching $1.6 billion. Like most stadiums, it was financed through a combination of public funding and along with help from Falcons owner Arthur Blank. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution details the financing.
In addition to the $850 million in loans, $200 million of the construction cost comes from bonds backed by Atlanta hotel-motel taxes, $200 million from the NFL and a yet-undetermined amount from sales of personal seat licenses. [Arthur] Blank is responsible for cost overruns.
Blank secured naming rights with Mercedes-Benz, and the deal runs through 2042.
2. The Roof is Designed to Look Like a Falcons Wing
Not only does the new Atlanta stadium have a futuristic look, there is meaning behind the design. According to Architect Magazine, the stadium has a retractable roof that is designed to look like a Falcons wing.
Architect Bill Johnson spoke with Forbes about the inspiration for the unique roof design.
Instead of designing the stadium seats and field first, I thought, why don’t we design the roof first? Let’s reimagine what that could be and let all other design decisions follow that—how the structure works, how the geometry of seats is organized, and how the skin becomes the sculptural form. That brought us to the point where we had something much more cohesive and inspirational.
…So the whole idea was to create this dramatic spot of light that would shine down on the 50-yard line, on the Falcon logo. I always felt the energy of the building has to be focused on the center—the football field and the soccer pitch.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes the retractable roof will not be fully functional for the first few games. The roof will remain closed until it fully mechanizes.
3. Yes, Concession Prices Are Really Cheap
One of the most viral facts about the new stadium was the concession prices. Fans are used to being held hostage by stadiums and arenas with exorbitant prices for food and drinks. Not so in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The folks behind the stadium are calling it Fan First Menu Prices.
According to SB Nation, some of the notable deals include the following: $2 refillable fountain drinks, $2 waters, $5 draft beers, $2 hot dogs, $2 popcorn and $3 pizza slices.
Stadium general manager Scott Jenkins spoke with SB Nation about the pricing.
“When you can come to an NFL stadium or a Major League Soccer stadium and be able to feed your family, a kid, for $10, and get a hot dog, a refillable soda, a popcorn and a pretzel, and right there you’ve only spent $8,” Jenkins told SB Nation. “I don’t think there’s a sports venue in the country that can say that.”
The internet had fun when it found out there was a Chick-fil-A in the stadium, even though it will be closed on Sundays when the Falcons play most of their games. However, it will be open for events held during the other six days of the week including Atlanta United matches along with concerts.
Beer drinkers will have no shortage of options. According to Sports Illustrated, there are 1,264 taps, which is a step up from the 30 options in the Georgia Dome. Based on fan feedback, there will be a particular emphasis on local craft beers in addition to other national brands.
4. The Stadium’s Halo Board Is the World’s Largest Screen at 63,000 Square Feet, Which Is Larger Than the Eiffel Tower
Instead of a standard screen that extends down from the middle of the roof, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium has a circular screen known as the Halo Board. According to SB Nation, the Falcons say it is the largest screen in the world. At 63,000 square feet, it is larger than the Eiffel Tower, or the largest building in Atlanta.
There are also large LED pillars that can be used for player introductions, graphics and highlights. The visual experience has become increasingly important as fewer fans are attending sporting events. Many fans prefer to stay home with the popularity of HD televisions and NFL Sunday Ticket where you can keep up with multiple games at once.
We are seeing newer constructed stadiums try to counter this with a unique experience.
5. Fans Are Greeted With the World’s Largest Bird Statue at the Front of the Stadium
The video screens are not the only things that are large in the new stadium. Out front, there is a giant bronze falcon statue. According to Sports Illustrated, it is 41 feet tall and weighs more than 36 tons, making it the largest bird statue in the world. We’re not entirely sure what the competition for that is, but the point is the statue is massive.
It was designed by Budapest artist Gábor Miklós Szőke, who creates these kind of metal monuments all over the world. Sports Illustrated notes the plaza had to be re-designed to accomodate the weight of the falcon.