Words by Katie Puckett
The 70,000-seat Mercedes-Benz stadium has multiple identities — but always puts fans first
If there’s one thing sports fans love as much as the game, it’s the stats. Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz stadium doesn’t disappoint. There are 4,000 miles of optic fibre snaking around the building, feeding 3,500ft of LED ribbon displays, the world’s largest scoreboard, 58ft high and 1,100ft wide, and another 100ft-high videoboard wrapped around a giant structural column. At the other end of the scale, hot dogs are just $1.50, you can drink all the Coke you want for $2 and the seats are 2 inches wider than those of its predecessor, Georgia Dome.
The goal of all of this, says general manager Scott Jenkins, is nothing less than to redefine the stadium experience. “It’s a very lofty objective, but it’s a competitive marketplace out there. People have a choice of where they spend their money and they have a choice of being at home. So we’re trying to give you a live venue experience that you can’t get at home or anywhere else.”
The 70,000-seat venue is right in the heart of Atlanta, and it wears its ambition proudly for all the city to see. Designed by HOK, it has a complex multifaceted form and a retractable roof whose camera-aperture-style opening is almost a newsworthy event in itself. The display screens and LED lighting throughout make it completely customisable inside and out — essential given that it’s not only home to the NFL Atlanta Falcons, but also soccer start-up Atlanta United. It hosts the Southeast Conference football championships and the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game that opens the college football season, as well as corporate events and concerts all year round.
“Any venue that’s going to be successful is going to be maniacal about focusing on the fan experience”Scott Jenkins, Mercedes-Benz Stadium