STADIUM DUDE’S NFL STADIUM RANK: #4
- Location: Atlanta, GA
- Opened: 2017
- Capacity: 71,000
- Football Weather Misery Index: Indoors
- Games attended: 1 (plus 1 tour)
- Last visited: 2018
We’re now officially into the “Wow” stadiums.
The place is swish. The seating bowl is great. And the premium seating areas are mind-blowing. How much luxury does one truly need for a football game?
The rose-petaled hole in the roof looks like a camera lens or Megatron’s butthole depending on your POV. It is the coolest retractable roof yet (when it works). Such a system keeps the fans shaded and covered, but still allows for it game to be played “outdoors”; to me, it’s more like having a sunroof versus a full convertible. That said, the stadium feels very airy; one entire end of the stadium is made up of windows providing a stunning view of the Atlanta skyline.
It’s modern in every respect. The main scoreboard is a 360-degree, 58’ foot tall Halo HD video board featuring 63,000 square feet of screen. There are more than 2,000 flat screen TV’s spread throughout the facility. It’s the first Platinum Level LEED certified stadium in the NFL. The seats are a wide 21” to accommodate the fluffier modern fan. And keeping with current stadium trends, the Falcons offer several social areas including a 100-foot-long bar and a fantasy football lounge.
The concessions are priced extraordinarily fairly; it redefined stadium pricing! You can get soda (with unlimited refills), water, hot dogs, pretzels and popcorn all for $2 each; pizza, nachos and waffle fries for $3; cheese fries or a 12-oz domestic beer for $5; and an ATL Italian Sausage or a 20-ounce ATL Pale Ale draft for $7. Lines are shorter because there are 673 concession points and over 1,200 beer taps. All refills are taken care of at free self-serve locations away from the concession stands to further ease congestion. There’s even a Chick Fil-A stand, which is hilarious because Chick Fil-A isn’t open on Sundays. Despite the reduction in prices, concession revenue in the first year of Mercedes-Benz Stadium went up 16% from the last year at the Georgia Dome. Obviously fans are are buying way more stuff at lower prices.
Atlanta fans first go to “early church” before they start tailgating, making the pre-game a little shorter than in other places. Many skip traditional parking lot tailgates and head straight to the Home Depot Backyard, featuring a bunch of green space, a performance stage, games, and a playground for the kids. When it comes time to enter the stadium, they are greeted by a 73,000-lb steel falcon sculpture with a 64-foot wingspan.
Falcon fans aren’t at the same elite level as their stadium; the team has a long history of disappointment, and Atlanta is still more of a college football town. But they’re filling this place and starting to add more to the overall vibe of the experience.
A lot of people were wondering why the Falcons felt they needed to replace the perfectly functionable Georgia Dome after only 25 seasons. But I don’t think anybody wonders if the new place is so much better. It’s an awesome building, and a flagship NFL stadium.