On September 1st, I had the privilege of attending the “First Seat Installation” at the new Mercedes-Benz stadium. Arthur Blank, Steve Cannon and Dietmar Exlar (CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA) were all in attendance. After the event, I joined several others for a tour of the stadium, learning more about the progress and getting a first hand look at what the fan experience will be like.
Though it doesn’t look like it, the stadium is set to open in June of 2017. The roofing structure is already 80% done, and the construction team is pushing hard to finish the roof so that they can work consistently in dry conditions. Fans will be glad to know that the amount of space in the commons areas seems substantially larger than in the Dome. A good bit of attention has been paid to maximizing space and making the game day experience better for fans. In fact, the new stadium has over 400,000 more square feet than the Dome.
We’ve already covered the new “fan friendly pricing” at the new stadium, but it’s worth noting that the entire experience will be improved. Drink refills will be at separate stations, allowing for more points of sale at the counters. In total, there will be 65 more points of sale than at the Dome, which should help reduce the long-lines that can form during the game. There will also be screens everywhere, so that fans won’t lose track of what’s going on in the game while getting their concessions.
The Mercedes-Benz stadium is also more environmentally friendly, using solar panels to help provide power. The yearly generation of power from the panels would be enough to power 160 homes and the the energy usage of the new stadium will be 34% less than the Dome.
The Falcons aren’t cutting corners when it comes to technology, either. There will be over 1800 wireless access points in the new stadium. They’re also running over 4000 miles of fiber optic cable, opting to run fiber straight to the access points to make the stadium as future proof as possible. Gone are the days of useless Wifi signals on game day.
The construction is made possible by three of the largest cranes in the world. You may be wondering how they’ll get the cranes out when they’re done? They’ll break them down into what will be 160 semi loads, through a large service tunnel that leads directly to the field.
Without a doubt, Arthur Blank’s goal is to build a state-of-the-art, one of a kind stadium. With seats that are 10% larger than at the Dome, and a hardened focus on creating an unrivaled fan experience, the new Mercedes-Benz stadium makes it clear why simply upgrading the Georgia Dome wasn’t a realistic option. While the outward design is compelling and eye-catching, it’s the attention to detail on the inside that truly stands out.
Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dietmar Exlar said it best: “The best or nothing.” It’s clear that this mentality is at the heart of the new stadium. Whether it’s the larger seats, the improved space or the overhaul of concessions, no expense is being spared to improve the overall fan experience. When the Falcons take the field in 2017, it will be in one of the finest stadiums in the world.
I, for one, am excited to see the final result.