When Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens this weekend, it will be the second NFL stadium opened under the supervision of Rich McKay, who applied the lessons of the Raymond James Stadium design to the new home of the Atlanta Falcons.
McKay was president of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1998 when the $168.5 million Raymond James Stadium opened. And while there are plenty of differences between the two facilities — outdoor vs. indoor, football vs. multiuse — McKay says he learned one basic lesson from Raymond James Stadium: the need to be involved in every major decision. From ESPN.com:
“I think I learned that you want to own every decision,” McKay said. “I think in Tampa, we didn’t own many decisions. We let others own them. We let architects own them. We let engineers own them. We let consultants own them.
“We come into this building, we own every decision. It didn’t mean that we didn’t use their expertise. But they came through us so we could understand what they were doing and why they were doing it; how it was going to impact the fan. And I think I would say anybody who is doing one of these projects should own every moment because you know the fans better than these consultants do.”
“In this building, we have owned it and designed it and controlled it from Day 1. The deal we did with the Georgia World Congress Center gave them approval right to some things, but basically turned it over to us on design side. So we’ve gone about this completely differently than the one I went through in Tampa.”
The modern NFL stadium has developed into its own subgenre of sports architecture. With the launch of AT&T Stadium in 2009, the game changed when it came to NFL stadiums. Mercedes-Benz Stadium is the next generation of new stadium — at least until new stadiums in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.