Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the new home of the Atlanta Falcons, is set to open its doors to the public in less than a month, but thanks to construction delays, there is still much work to be done.
The most significant effect of these setbacks will literally overshadow any action on the field. According to Steve Cannon, CEO of the Falcons’ parent company, the venue’s large retractable roof has yet to be mechanised. It will be closed when fans arrive for the stadium’s first event, a preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals on August 26, and it will stay closed through Atlanta’s home opener against the Green Bay Packers on September 17.
“As we come into new information and new obstacles, we figure out what impact it’s going to have on schedule,” Cannon told Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It became clear, based on the construction moves of the roof we have had, based on some of the delays we have had, that we didn’t have time to automate the roof.”
The stadium’s retractable roof will be unlike any other, opening up like a flower and inspired by the Oculus in the Pantheon of ancient Rome.
This is just the latest obstacle in what has been a long and drawn-out building process. The stadium was supposed to open on March 1 of this year, but that was pushed back to the day of the Falcons’ third preseason game. Furthermore, early estimates predicted a $US700 million price tag for the project, but a recent assessment put the total cost at $US1.6 billion.
While Cannon said initially that the mechanization process would take around 40 days, the project is now expected to be completed no earlier than mid-October. That means the Falcons will play at least three home games under the roof, regardless of the weather.
The delay will be a bummer for fans who want to enjoy the sunshine, but to Cannon, using the stadium as it is is preferable to finding a replacement venue.
“We’d rather just have great events under a closed roof,” he said.
Falcons fans may be frustrated for now, but the new stadium will provide some undeniable perks once it opens. A graphic of the venue’s low concession prices went viral earlier this month.
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