There’s been some handwringing as to whether or not Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be done by its planned completion date of July 30, in time for Atlanta United’s home contest against Orlando City SC. It started when it was reported that issues with getting proper materials for the stadium’s retractable roof could potentially delay the project, and continued when a planned update from the stadium construction company didn’t come within the promised “seven to ten day” timeframe.
However, we did get a bit of news today. At the grand opening of Atlanta United’s new training ground, Arthur Blank was asked by 11Alive News about the timeline and whether or not things are still on track.
Blank said all the events that are scheduled for the stadium are still on the books. However, he said that they are in the final “five months” of construction, which would suggest an opening in September. A spokesman for Blank later told 11Alive he misspoke, and that there are events on the books for August, like the NFL preseason announced on Monday.
Darren Eales would respond that things are “still as planned” for a July 30 opening. Interestingly enough, when MLS commissioner Don Garber was asked about the stadium completion date, he echoed Blank’s September remarks, but later said he made a mistake.
“When you speak as much as I do, September was a month I said that has no connection to exactly where we are. We are still focused on getting in as planned. The goal is to be into the stadium by late summer. So don’t read too much into my comments,” he said.
August would definitely qualify as “late summer”, and it would give the club some wiggle room in case things are pushed back. The Falcons host the Arizona Cardinals in a preseason game within the August 24-27 timeframe (according to the NFL’s preseason schedule released yesterday) and United have two home matches that month (Minnesota United FC on August 13 and LA Galaxy August 19) along with the one on July 30, so the worst case scenario would be the Falcons’ preseason game being moved to a neutral site and the two United home matches being played at Bobby Dodd. While that might upset fans of both teams, AMB may have no other choice if there are further delays. Good news: United have five straight home matches in the month of September.
Of course, there’s obviously the possibility that it ultimately turned out to be a lot of smoke with no fire and things finish up as planned by July 30 on a very accelerated schedule.