April 01, 2017

ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Falcons hope to have an update soon on whether issues regarding its new stadium - notably, its roof - will again delay its projected opening day.

Challenges in building the retractable roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium also raise questions about whether the Falcons could play in the stadium before the roof is operable, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (http://bit.ly/2nkePNx ).

If not, would they have to play some home games elsewhere?

The Falcons say they'll have an update on the construction timeline within the next few days.

Issues with the technologically complex roof have already delayed the opening twice, first pushing back the target from March 1 to June 1, and then pushing it back further to July 30, the newspaper reported.

The organization hasn't changed the July 30 opening date at this point but is ''working through the construction timelines,'' Steve Cannon, CEO of Falcons parent company AMB Group, said in a statement to the newspaper.

''No announced event dates have been changed, and work is moving forward at a rapid pace,'' Cannon said.

''Many areas of the building are finished, and others are nearing completion,'' he said. ''We are routinely working through the construction timelines with our partners, and with any building this size, scope and complexity, adjustments to construction timelines are expected.''

The possibility of further such ''adjustments'' raises many questions, including whether the Falcons could play in the stadium before the roof is operable or whether they might have to play elsewhere, The Journal-Constitution reported.

Brett Jewkes, AMB Group's senior vice president and chief communications officer, declined to speculate on such questions, saying the project schedule will be updated during the first few days of April.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium's first scheduled event is an Atlanta United soccer match on July 30, followed by two more soccer matches in August and two Chick-fil-A Kickoff college football games in early September: Alabama vs. Florida State on Sept. 2; and Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee on Sept. 4.

Dates for Falcons home games are expected to be announced next month by the NFL, along with the rest of the league's 2017 schedule.

One possible site to host football games if the new $1.5 billion stadium isn't ready would be the Georgia Dome, which officially closed after a March 5 Monster Jam trucks show amid plans to demolish it this summer.

Preparations for demolishing the Georgia Dome have already begun, such as removing the turf. However, ''until the Dome is demolished it could be utilized,'' said Jennifer LeMaster, a spokeswoman for the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which operated the Dome.

The new stadium's roof, the first of its kind, consists of eight petals, each to be installed in four pieces. The roof is designed to open or close in about eight minutes with what architects have described as a ''camera lens-like'' effect.

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Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com

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