The opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium has been delayed, as officials confirmed Tuesday that it will now open on August 26 rather than July 30.
Reports in recent weeks have indicated that the complex process of constructing the stadium’s retractable-roof could lead to a delayed opening, even as the Atlanta Falcons and the NFL released the team’s pre-season schedule. The latest announcement means that the Falcons–rather than Atlanta United FC, the facility’s MLS tenant–will open Mercedes-Benz Stadium, as the team remains on track to play a pre-season contest at the venue on August 26.
Also affected in this scenario is the status of the Falcons’ former home, the adjacent Georgia Dome. The current plan is to hold off on the process of removing Georgia Dome–which hosted its final event in March–until it is certain that Mercedes-Benz Stadium can be occupied on schedule, according to Steve Cannon, the CEO of the AMB Group. More from the Atlanta-Journal Constitution:
Cannon also confirmed that “decommissioning” and demolition of the Georgia Dome have been put on hold “until we are 100 percent certain of achieving our certificate of occupancy.”
“This really does represent an insurance policy,” he said. “We do not expect to use the Georgia Dome whatsoever.”
The $1.5 billion retractable-roof stadium was originally scheduled to open on March 1. That was pushed back to June 1 and then pushed back again to July 30.
Cannon said the latest delay disclosed Tuesday was driven by “steel work that is taking longer than we anticipated” in the roof and an analysis of the construction timeline from this point forward.
He said AMB Group’s expectation is that the roof will be fully operable when the stadium opens.
Tuesday’s announcement means that football games slated to take place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for late August and early September remain on schedule. The Falcons will play preseason games at home on both August 26 and 31, while Alabama and Florida State are still set to square off at the facility on September 2. Tennessee and Georgia Tech are also still expected to play at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 4.
As for soccer, Atlanta United FC announced on Tuesday that three of its home matches will be affected as the result of changed timeline.
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