This past Saturday, I had the fortune of attending the very first Falcons game in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. A good friend of mine from high-school - thanks Adrian Robinson! - reached out to me to see if I’d like to go. My wife and I made our way into Atlanta to attend the game and see what the actual game day experience would be like.
The first thing I noticed was that the security lines were much more efficient. My wife and I arrived early (gates opened at 5PM) but the crowds were already pretty significant. However, we made it through security quickly and with little hassle. Once through, we were in the “landing pad” in front of the stadium, where the giant statue resides. Even with the thousands of people there, the area never felt crowded or claustrophobic as it did at the Dome.
Once we made it inside, the sheer number of people in the initial landing area was overwhelming. Despite that, moving around the stadium was not hard at all. I can’t emphasize enough that there is so much more space to move around compared to the Dome.
Falcons leadership wanted to make this stadium a cool enough experience on its own that people would be inside well before the game starts. Mission accomplished. The Dome was notoriously empty before games, with people often pouring in just a few minutes before kickoff. If this first preseason game is any indication, that will not be the case anymore.
My wife and I decided to walk all three levels of the stadium to look at all the food and alcohol options (SO MUCH GLORIOUS ALCOHOL) before making our decision. The food options are endless, as we’ve discussed before. The stadium is easily the best food court in all of Atlanta. There were only a few places where the crowds really bottle necked, but overall it was still relatively easy to move around.
As for the seating, it’s obvious the seats are larger than they used to be and pretty comfortable overall. The Halo Board is an incredible sight, and was maybe a little too bright at times. You could almost feel the heat of the light on your skin. We often found ourselves watching the game on the board instead of watching it on the field. It’s an impressive display.
Leaving Mercedes-Benz stadium was not bad at all. In the Dome, the crowds would get so thick that you would be shoulder-to-shoulder and moving inches at a time to get out. While it was still pretty crowded at the new stadium, it was much easier to move around and move quickly. The amount of space they’ve added to walking areas is quite noticeable.
There were a few downsides. The audio quality was pretty poor overall, but I’ve read that it will be addressed before the season begins. Additionally, I also read that many vendors ran out of food, which will likely improve over time as they do a better job anticipating what kind of demand they’ll see.
Overall, the difference between the Georgia Dome and Mercedes-Benz stadium is night and day. All of the frustrations fans used to experience at the Dome (minus the sound quality) have been addressed impressively at the new stadium. The food and drink options are everything we were told they would be, and the overall experience is a great one. Even if you’re unable to go to a Falcons game, I strongly encourage you to go to the stadium for some event. It’s absolutely worth it.