When Atlanta United announced plans to start their season at Bobby Dodd Stadium on the campus of Georgia Tech, many fans wondered if this might mean that the completion date of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium could be delayed and it could affect Atlanta United games in the facility.
Steve Cannon, CEO of Atlanta United’s parent company AMB Group, was clear in stating earlier this month that the stadium would be ready for the Falcons’ preseason schedule, which will start in August 2017. He also told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Tim Tucker:
“We’re shooting for the summer, and whether that summer is late June or early July, that is dependent on the MLS schedule as well as the (testing) process for the stadium.”
HHRM is in charge of the new stadium’s construction. It is a joint venture between Holder Construction Company, Hunt Construction Group, H.J. Russell and Company, and C.D. Moody Construction Company. The project superintendent Bob Evans told the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Phil Hudson that “the goal is to have the stadium completed by the start of the Falcons’ 2017 season.”
Working backwards on the 2017 NFL schedule, the Falcons will likely open preseason between August 10-13. If the team and league wants to play it safe, they could schedule the Falcons away for the first two weeks of preseason before hosting a game at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium between August 24-27.
As we discussed, MLS will have to be creative in how they schedule Atlanta’s home games early in the season. Most of the April dates are unavailable due to Georgia Tech spring football. The club’s agreement to use Bobby Dodd Stadium runs through July, but they are committed to play in the new stadium as soon as it is possible to do so.
The temporary move to Bobby Dodd Stadium will not come cheap to Atlanta United. The club said:
“Arthur Blank and Atlanta United are bearing all of the costs to play at Georgia Tech. This is an investment Arthur is making in our team and our fans to deliver soccer earlier than expected and to give our team the best chance to be competitive right off the bat. We think Georgia Tech will benefit from this as well and we’re excited the university will now be an indelible part of Atlanta United’s history.”
The club expects that the MLS schedule will be released in early January.
Next summer will also see the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup and the International Champions Cup played in the U.S. Atlanta hosted quarterfinals of the Gold Cup in 2013 and semifinals in 2015, it would likely be considered for games during next year’s tournament if Mercedes-Benz Stadium is available between July 7-26. The International Champions Cup games in the U.S. were played between July 24 and August 3. Atlanta has never hosted ICC games in the past, but a new stadium would likely be a great motivator for the event to visit.
Yesterday, workers at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium held a ceremony to signify completion of the fixed roof structure. More work can now begin on the lower bowl, the Fan Plaza, and installation of LED video boards, and more.
#MBStadium Milestone | Final Beams pic.twitter.com/ybkwhneRyp— MercedesBenzStadium (@MBStadium) October 19, 2016
This week, Mercedes-Benz Stadium hosted tours and Curbed Atlanta posted a photo gallery of the progress. The stadium was also recently cited for its efforts to be environmentally focused and earn a LEED Platinum certification. It would be the first NFL or MLS venue to receive that honor.