By now we've all heard that Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium has a Chick-fil-A that isn't open on Sundays, but the NFL's newest stadium has a lot more to offer. Here are the top five tidbits about the Falcons' new home, with information from Falcons CEO Rich McKay and owner Arthur Blank's conversations on “The MMQB Podcast with Peter King.”
1. The world's largest bird statue. As you walk into the stadium, you can't miss the HUGE falcon statue. Standing more than 41 feet tall and weighing in at more than 36 tons, this massive metal statue was designed by Gábor Miklós Szőke, a Budapest-based artist who creates monumental structures across the world. Falcons CEO Rich McKay told Peter King that Savannah College of Art and Design introduced the team to Szőke's work. The plaza where the statue sits had to be redesigned to accommodate the weight of the monstrous bird.
2. Food and drinks at reasonable prices. No more sneaking in snacks! No more sharing a pretzel with four people! Mercedes-Benz Stadium will sell $2 hot dogs, $2 sodas, and $5 beers. After surveying fans, the Falcons realized food and beverage prices were the main in-stadium complaint, so they decided to do things differently. "People will pay no more inside of this stadium for food or beverage than they would across the street," says Arthur Blank. The stadium also focused on including food from local favorites, like Antico Pizza.
3. An extensive beer list. The Georgia Dome had 30 beer taps. Mercedes Benz Stadium has 1,264. The Falcons asked a 5,000-strong fan council what they wanted for stadium beer, and the people spoke: local craft options. Though each concession stand has its own distinct beer list, the stadium will have maps to direct thirsty fans to their Sweetwater and their Terrapin. "We want people to be able to enjoy what they want to enjoy," McKay says. "We don't want to dictate to them based on a sponsorship deal that we did." Cheers to beer freedom!
4. No permanent signage. Each sign in the stadium is digital, meaning the venue can quickly transform from a Beyoncé concert to a college football game to an Atlanta United MLS match. The sponsored advertisements will appear on the LED ribbon boards, the halo video board or 101-foot-tall LED mega-column.
5. The perfect football weather. Over the last 10 years, 102 games in Atlanta, the average temperature during the three hours of game time was 65 degrees. “I think if you asked football players and fans, hey, what temperature do you want for a game? They might pick 65,” McKay says. This weather research influenced the team’s decision to go with a retractable roof rather than a permanent dome like the Falcons’ previous home. The roof has eight retractable petals, each weighing 550 tons. The team hopes to play most games with the roof open, because McKay says, "football is meant to be played outside."
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