Mercedes-Benz Stadium is absolutely incredible. I got to tour it for the first time today and I was completely blown away. There is no doubt in my mind that it will be one of, if not the most unique stadium experience in MLS, right up there with Seattle and Portland.
The first thing you notice when you walk in is, obviously, the halo board. It is the most impressive video screen I’ve ever seen. The roof is obviously impressive, but we didn’t get to see it in action, so I can’t really speak to it yet. The other thing that completely blew me away was the “Window to the City” as they called it. Right behind the Atlanta United supporters’ section, the big glass windowpanes offer one of the most amazing views of the city anywhere. It was truly a breathtaking sight.
Now, from the Atlanta United perspective, the biggest question is the field turf. Talking to Darren Eales, he told me that Arthur Blank and the Falcons gave Atlanta United full authority in choosing the type of turf they would use because the playing surface would be more important in how the game was affected for soccer than for football. The first thing I noticed about the turf was how much give it had. It was definitely the softest turf I’ve ever stood on and it felt as much like real grass as turf can. Another thing Eales told me was that they’ve been practicing on it over at the Atlanta United training ground for a while now, so the team will already be used to it.
The Five Stripes also have a beautiful locker room with an awesome trainers area, hot tub, and a cool “kick room” where players can warm up. Fans will be super impressed by the concessions as well (We got to try Kevin Gillespie’s COS Chicken Sandwich. The “COS” stands for “Closed on Sunday”, obviously a nod to Chick-Fil-A. No offense to one of my favorite fast food restaurants, but that was one of the best chicken sandwiches I’ve ever eaten in my life).
Barrett Sallee, a college football writer for CBSSports.com tweeted this after the stadium tour, and I couldn’t agree more:
Now, if only September 10th would hurry the hell up…