While introducing some wiggle room into Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s planned opening date, the Falcons organization reiterated Wednesday that the new downtown facility will be ready for the start of next football season.
“We’re not worried about that at all,” said Steve Cannon, CEO of Falcons parent company AMB Group. “We’ve got the time that we’re going to need. … We’re good. No impact.”
Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in January that the stadium’s completion date had been pushed back three months — from March 1, 2017, until June 1, 2017 — and team officials had held to that timetable since then. During Wednesday’s announcement that the Atlanta United soccer team will play its home games at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium until Mercedes-Benz Stadium is open, Cannon refrained from putting an exact date on when the new stadium will be ready for events.
He said “substantial completion” is scheduled for June, and “we’re not changing our position on that whatsoever.” But asked if it is known whether events will be held there in June, he said: “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.”
A document distributed to the media by AMB Group also addressed the question, stating: “(W)e’ll take control of the building in phases and we’ll open it for events when it is ready. It will be next summer.”
In any case, Cannon was unequivocal in saying the $1.5 billion stadium will be open in ample time for the start of the Falcons’ 2017 season, including exhibition games, and for the two Chick-fil-A Kickoff college-football games (Alabama vs. Florida State on Sept. 2 and Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee on Sept. 4.)
Cannon said stadium construction is proceeding well, with a milestone scheduled Oct. 14: the installation of the final major steel truss for the fixed portion of the complex roof. The retractable portion of the roof will begin to be installed “at the end of this year into the first quarter of next year,” Cannon said.