The media got its first look at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Tuesday and were taken on a pleasant tour through the complex and oh man who am I kidding trying to be reserved about this thing OH MY GOD IT’S A FREAKIN’ SPACESHIP. IT’S INCREDIBLE AND IT’S OURS AND I’M NOT EVEN SURE WE’RE WORTHY OF IT.
I mean, LOOKIT.
Look at our massive, circular video board!
Look at our well-lit, English soccer inspired dressing room!
New dressing room for the Five Stripes. Not bad. pic.twitter.com/DiX1DLHOpr— Sam Jones (@J_SamJones) July 25, 2017
Look at our…umm…giant metal death bird!
Honestly, the whole thing is amazing.
There is still some ways to go with the final pieces of construction and the roof won’t be fully functional until late fall, but the whole complex is still remarkable. I’m going to run out of adjectives describing what it will be like to watch a soccer game in this thing, especially when the top levels are opened and 70,000+ fans pour in. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait to see the stadium at full capacity for soccer.
As of today, just two of the eight games at MBS will have the 300 level open: The season finale against Toronto FC on Oct. 22, and the Sept. 16 match against the team from Florida — the third home game in MBS.
“Our first game against FC Dallas we wanted to go with the soccer specific stadium,” Club President Darren Eales said. “We want our family members, the people that were there 2 ½ years ago to feel special. For that game we kept it small, and we kept it smaller consciously. That’s how Atlanta United games are going to be and importantly for our fans we felt that they’ve been with us on the whole journey and they deserve the excitement of that first game. Then we’ll blow it big that next game against [the purple team].”
While there’s some frustration from fans with ticketing, the good news is – and take this for what it’s worth (not much) – in my opinion, the atmosphere isn’t going to suffer in the move away from Bobby Dodd.
This place is loud, y’all.
With the roof open and minor construction happening, hearing our tour guides at field level was anything but easy. The Georgia Dome was famously loud, in large part due to its status as the world’s largest tent. Sound couldn’t escape if it tried and because of that, the most ear-splitting moments of my life have occurred at the Georgia Dome. Today gave me no indication that MBS will be a major drop off from that.
Eales thinks the atmosphere will improve away from North Avenue.
“There’s been a lot of talk about Bobby Dodd, it’s been fantastic. Everyone is saying ‘Well, will we be able to recreate the atmosphere here at Mercedes-Benz and will it be as good?’ Our fans are coming with us. We’re not losing our fans. It’s the same fans who make the noise,” he said.
“You think about it. Here the roof refracts the noise down. At Bobby Dodd you lose that noise out. It’s going to sound 3-4 times as loud with the roof here. With the facilities, you’ll actually be able to get a beer. You’ll be able to have even more beers before the game. It’s just going to be even rowdier. We’ve got no concerns about the atmosphere here.”
If the atmosphere does drop off at MBS for some reason, the players will at least be better taken care of.
Eales says the dressing room is “designed so that we have the feeling of camaraderie and everyone can see each other” and has “the look and feel of a traditional soccer dressing room.”
The amenities are what set it apart though.
Included with the main dressing room is a “pre-activation room” where players can stretch before taking the field, a trainer’s room, a hydrotherapy pool and a pre-match dining room where the team will eat its game day meal. After the meal, that room will be converted into a family room where players can meet with relatives after the game.
The family room was a special request from Eales.
“We’re an environment where the salary cap means we’re trying to compete for players,” he said. “The ability for us to be a family club and for the players families to be able to meet after the game and grab some food is a big factor and other MLS teams don’t have something comparable. We’re always trying to look for an edge.”
My personal favorite feature is a somewhat hidden room that Eales says is a traditional feature in England. The room connects the Atlanta dressing room and the visiting team’s room and allows the managers of both teams to sit together after the game and have a drink without harassment from players and media.
All considered, every conceivable thing seems like an upgrade. The hype level for this place should probably be a lot higher than it already is. It’s so impressive that there is a more than legitimate chance that our stadium sees matches that are even grander in scale than an Atlanta United game. You know, like a World Cup final.
“We want to be front and center of [North America’s 2026 World Cup] bid. We want that chance with what’s going to be the best stadium at the time in 2026,” Eales said. “With this fan base that’s really gotten behind soccer, all the advices we have from those big events like the Super Bowl, it puts us in prime position for the World Cup.”
Even if it’s not a World Cup final, watching a soccer game with 42,000 fans at this place is going to be insane. Watching a game with over 70,000 may be unlike anything in the world.
The stadium is unique, world-class and, somehow, for some inexplicable reason, it’s ours. It’s Atlanta’s. Don’t take it for granted.
Y’all need to see this place.