If you’re an Atlanta sports fan, this year was a gift from the gods. ESPN‘s College GameDay kicked off its 25th season with a live broadcast from Atlanta; the Falcons made it to Super Bowl LI (readers, we’re keeping it positive so let’s skip the final score); the Atlanta Braves found a new home with the opening of SunTrust Park (and its respective entertainment sister, The Battery); and Atlanta United unleashed a wave of unheralded soccer enthusiasm. And then there is the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

It’s hard to describe such a magnificent building — clearly designed to be one of the city’s most interesting landmarks. Passing by at eye level, Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS) is a feat of engineering and architectural prowess, artfully created with steel, glass and wing-like exterior sections (a nod to the Atlanta Falcons). Looking overhead, the stadium resembles a blossoming flower — a retractable roof inspired by the oculus of the ancient Roman Pantheon. The massive floor-to-ceiling “window walls,” overlooking Atlanta, remind ticket holders that the stadium is a lovesong to the city’s fans.

Located at the main entrance of the stadium, the Front Porch features more than 100,000 square feet of open gathering space for ticketed fans to hang out and enjoy live entertainment inside the secured perimeter.

Located at the main entrance of the stadium, the Front Porch features more than 100,000 square feet of open gathering space for ticketed fans to hang out and enjoy live entertainment inside the secured perimeter.

The transparent façade creates a "window to the city," with stunning views of Atlanta's skyline. The openness connects fans to downtown, and vice versa, offering visual impact of the 2 million-square-foot stadium.

The transparent façade creates a “window to the city,” with stunning views of Atlanta’s skyline. The openness connects fans to downtown, and vice versa, offering the visual impact of the 2 million-square-foot stadium.

So okay, it’s obviously gorgeous, but MBS is also a testament of how technology, sustainability and an unmatched fan experience can be quite beautiful. The new stadium’s features and design demonstrate what it is to make the impossible possible.

First on the pick-your-mouth-up-off-the-floor features: the halo video board. This HD “screen” offers a 360-degree view of what’s happening on the field. The halo video board weighs approximately 500 tons and measures to the equivalence of about three football fields (three times larger than any other display in the NFL). This immersive experience is built right into the roof. And speaking of roofs, Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s kinetic roof is the centerpiece of its innovative design. The retractable roof uses 16 tracks (two per petal) that allow the panels to open and close like a camera aperture — a feat unlike the traditional roofs of past facilities that follow a basic, horizontal path.

The Mercedes-Benz Stadium roof may appear to rotate open but it's an optical illusion. The roof opens by the movement of eight "petals" that slide open in a straight line.

The Mercedes-Benz Stadium roof may appear to rotate open but it’s an optical illusion. The roof opens by the movement of eight “petals” that slide open in a straight line.

You may not be thinking about Mother Earth as you chow down on nachos and cheer on Atlanta United, but she should be proud of the conscious efforts paid in the art of sustainable design. The stadium is seeking LEED Platinum certification — a first for a professional sports facility. Environmentally friendly features like rainwater recapture/reuse, solar panels, LED lighting and open air and natural light options, electric vehicle charging stations, a new grass park and more could show the world that innovative, sustainable design is possible, even on such a grand scale as MBS.

And just as Mother Earth may be cheering, fans are too. The fan experience is unprecedented with competing sports stadiums — MBS presents games with an integrated emphasis on audio, video and lighting, like the halo board, to create a stunning theatrical display. The 71,000 seats can be scaled up to 83,000, there are 673 concessions stands (for shorter lines), increased access and walkability, more elevators and escalators, nearly 200 suites and seven exclusive dining and entertainment club areas.

There's as much steel in the halo video board's support structure as in a 150,000-square-foot building.

There’s as much steel in the halo video board’s support structure as in a 150,000-square-foot building.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium maximizes flexibility and scalability. Retractable seats surrounding the field bring Atlanta United fans closer to the pitch…and the action.

MBS maximizes flexibility and scalability. Retractable seats surrounding the field bring Atlanta United fans closer to the pitch … and the action.

The player locker rooms were created with coach and player feedback, featuring state-of-the-art amenities and expansive areas.

The player locker rooms were created with coach and player feedback, featuring state-of-the-art amenities and expansive areas.

We can’t talk about the ultimate stadium without mentioning something about the food. MBS utilizes Fan First pricing — the first major sports facility to offer no price mark-up on food and beverages for specialty items. That means the pricing is the same inside the stadium as it is in a restaurant outside the stadium. People, this is a game-changer — no going broke on a plate of chicken tenders and beer, no need to sneak in that Costco-sized bag of popcorn! If concession fare like delish waffle fries and hot dogs isn’t your thing, the stadium partnered with rad Atlanta restaurants (all chosen by fans) including Antico Pizza, Jim ‘N Nicks Bar-B-Que, Sublime Donuts, Delia’s Sausage and more to feature additional specialty items.

Fans will cheer for the food, as well as their teams, when eating at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. There are a ton of delicious options, like this brisket grilled cheese sandwich, from Atlanta's top chefs and culinary leaders.

Fans will cheer for the food, as well as their teams, when eating at MBS. There are a ton of delicious options, like this brisket grilled cheese sandwich, from Atlanta’s top chefs and culinary leaders.

We can’t talk about the food without giving a specific shout-out to Molly B’s, Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s custom restaurant located right on the 100 concourse. The restaurant is a modern twist on a Southern chop house and overlooks all the action of the field (you can come for lunch on non-event days as well). The menus change on Falcon and Atlanta United game days, so it’s always fun to see what the kitchen is prepping. (Personal rec: The buttermilk fried chicken comes in a huge portion of crunchy goodness.)

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Molly B's is the stadium's custom restaurant concept, looking out right onto the field. The dining spot offers an exclusive club dining experience pre-game during Atlanta United and Falcons games, opening to all fans after the first quarter (Falcons) and after match start (Atlanta United).

Molly B’s is the stadium’s custom restaurant concept, looking out right onto the field. The dining spot offers an exclusive club dining experience pre-game during Atlanta United and Falcons games, opening to all fans after the first quarter (Falcons) and after match start (Atlanta United).

Chef Michael Bertozzi formulated a rotating menu that evokes Southern-inspired dishes with a modern angle. Menu highlights include mac n' cheese, baby back ribs and insanely good fried chicken. Image: Mia Yakel

Chef Michael Bertozzi formulated a rotating menu that evokes Southern-inspired dishes with a modern angle. Menu highlights include mac ‘n’ cheese, baby back ribs and insanely good fried chicken. Image: Mia Yakel

If you want a super suite (get it?!) experience, MBS is not short of luxury options, including some at field level. And with all that private viewing, comes the private clubs. The 300 Executive Members have exclusive viewing access to players, VIP parking and entrance into the stadium, all-inclusive food and beverages, and of course, entrance to the AMG Lounge, SunTrust Club and Gullwing Club. The Mercedes-Benz & Delta Sky360 clubs feature access to on-field patio areas, lounge seating, private bars and restrooms and gourmet cuisine, all reserved for club seat holders in the first 35 rows from the field.

The owner's suites are beyond luxury -- these lucky ticket holders have access to the super luxe Mercedes-Benz Gullwing Club, all-inclusive food and drinks and/or in-suite catering options, sick views of the field and more.

The owner’s suites are beyond luxurious — these lucky ticket holders have access to the super-luxe Mercedes-Benz Gullwing Club, all-inclusive food and drinks and/or in-suite catering options, amazing views of the field and more.

The AMG Lounge, located at field level within the Mercedes-Benz Club, is an ultra-premium private club offering fabulous amenities.

The AMG Lounge, located at field level within the Mercedes-Benz Club, is an ultra-premium private club offering fabulous amenities.

The SunTrust Club, along with the AMG Lounge, creates a VIP experience from the moment lucky members step inside. Amenities include all-inclusive food and beverages and access to the on-pitch patio, among others.

The SunTrust Club, along with the AMG Lounge, creates a VIP experience from the moment lucky members step inside. Amenities include all-inclusive food and beverages and access to the on-pitch patio, among others.

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Whether you have champagne or Budweiser taste, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, there’s a lot to look at … besides the field. The facility partnered with the Savannah College of Art and Design to commission and curate memorable art and memorabilia. As fans enter the building (check out that 41-foot-tall stainless steel falcon statue out front), they will pass by a 200-piece art collection from muralists, photographers, sculptors and artists from Atlanta and across the world.

The stainless steel falcon statue weighs about 73,000 pounds and was designed by Hungarian artist Gabor Miklos Szoke.

The stainless steel falcon statue weighs about 73,000 pounds and was designed by Hungarian artist Gabor Miklos Szoke.

Georgia will definitely be on your mind upon visiting Mercedes-Benz Stadium. SCAD helped curate a huge, gorgeous art collection, all inspired or reminiscent of Atlanta, Georgia and our strong love of sports.

Georgia will definitely be on your mind upon visiting Mercedes-Benz Stadium. SCAD helped curate a huge, gorgeous art collection, all inspired or reminiscent of Atlanta and the city’s strong love of sports.

Art is everywhere you look at MBS -- whether waiting in line for food, walking through one of the corridors or just hanging by one of the 2,400 HD televisions throughout the building.

Art is everywhere you look at MBS — whether waiting in line for food, walking through one of the corridors or just hanging by one of the 2,400 HD televisions throughout the building.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium doesn’t just host heart-stopping action and sports-fueled magic — it IS the magic. The stadium is a destination of its own — ingenuity, artistry and pure gumption forged an Atlanta landmark where memories will be created for ages.

All photography provided by AMB Sports & Entertainment unless otherwise noted.

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