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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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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