Mercedes-Benz Stadium opening delayed, first event pushed back

Arthur Blank gives update on Mercedes-Benz Stadium roof and timeline

ATLANTA -- According to Steve Cannon, CEO of AMB Group LLC (The Arthur Blank Group), the opening events that were scheduled to take place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be pushed back, and the stadium's opening has been delayed to August of this year because of continuing analysis of the retractable roof.

The Atlanta Falcons are now scheduled to open the stadium with their third preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m.

Three Atlanta United games will be affected by Mercedes-Benz Stadium's opening getting delayed, now for a third time. The original opening was scheduled for March of 2017. The last target date for the $1.6 billion stadium's opening was scheduled for an Atlanta United FC game on July 30.

On Tuesday, Cannon wanted to emphasize that the construction was "progressing very well" and that "stadium projects in general are complex and Mercedes-Benz is state-of-the-art". 

PHOTOS | Hard hat tour of Mercedes-Benz Stadium

PHOTOS | Inside the Mercedes-Benz Stadium

The roof, contrary to rumors stating otherwise, is well on its way to being complete. So far, 3/4 of the roof panels are installed, and it is in the process of being opened and tested.

"The reason for a revised timeline is quite simple: normal surveying and analysis of the roof structure, as well as steelwork in the roof, have both taken longer than planned. Those two things have had a cascading effect on overall workflows related to the roof and that is the reason for the new timeline. We've worked very hard over the last few weeks to find any possible avenue to meet the July 30 timeline, but have not been able to do so. Our construction partners have now worked through re-sequencing the remaining work and are very confident we'll be ready for live events beginning with the Falcons game on August 26.

"Yes the design is complex but there is not any concern about the operability of the roof. Yes, it was additional work that was not foreseen but it doesn't mess up the critical path," Cannon stated. "Twenty-seven thousand tons of steel, 16 thousand connections, so it is just normal steelwork. It is a lot of steelwork that needs to be analyzed."

The suites are complete and concessions are also nearing completion. 

Atlanta United's match that was previously scheduled for July 30 at Mercedes-Benz will be moved to Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday, July 29 at 5 p.m. even though a proper field has not been installed and will not be installed in time for the game.

The next two games, one with Minnesota United on August 13 and one against LA Galaxy on August 19, are being rescheduled for later dates at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The dates will be announced at a later time. 

No changes have been made to the Chick-fil-A Kickoff games scheduled for in the stadium over Labor Day weekend or Atlanta United’s scheduled home match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with FC Dallas on September 9. The Falcons final preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars is scheduled for Aug. 31 at 7 p.m.

As for the fans who already purchased tickets for the first three Atlanta United games, there is no set plan on how reimbursement will be handled, or whether there will be any reimbursement at all. 

"We'll deal with our upset fan base in a one on one way," Cannon said. "The Bobby Dodd experience has been excellent. We'll manage through this and ultimately will delight our Atlanta United fan base."

As for the Georgia Dome, the process of decommissioning the former football stadium has been put on hold until certainty of receiving a certificate of occupancy. 

"For us as prudent businesspeople, until we have 100 percent certainty we will hold onto our insurance policy. we expect. we do not expect to use the Georgia Dome whatsoever."

11Alive's Alec McQuade contributed to this report.

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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