Grass will be put in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Feb. 2026 for World Cup

The new artificial-turf playing surface at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is in place. (AMBSE photo).

Credit: AMBSE

Credit: AMBSE

The new artificial-turf playing surface at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is in place. (AMBSE photo).

As part of the preparations for the 2026 World Cup, grass will be installed at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Feb. 2026 and maintained until the tournament semifinal is played on July 15.

The installation will mean that Atlanta United’s home matches in the first few months of its 2026 season will be played on the natural surface. Dietmar Exler, COO of Arthur M. Blank Sports and Entertainment and who manages Mercedes-Benz Stadium, said they are putting the grass in earlier than the tournament’s June 11 start date because they want to develop best practices for its preparation before matches as well as maintenance between matches. Eight matches will be played at the stadium in 30 days, including five group stage matches every three days from June 15 through June 27.

“We need to be ready,” he said.

The turf in the stadium has already been removed because an underground ventilation and irrigation system is being installed to help grow the grass in 2026.

Once the final semifinal is played, the grass will be removed and the turf will be reinstalled to better accommodate the myriad events the stadium hosts.

FIFA, the tournament’s organizers, requires grass for matches. FIFA, working with two partners at Michigan State and Tennessee, will decide what grass is used in the seven stadiums that will switch from turf. The other stadiums are in Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Vancouver, Boston, Seattle and New Jersey.

Each organizing committee will pay for the cost, which is estimated to be in the millions of dollars. The cost will be offset by a projected economic impact to Atlanta of at least $400 million from the eight matches that will be played in the stadium, according to Atlanta Sports Council President Dan Corso.

“We’re going to work very closely with FIFA, because that’s what they expect to do with all cities,” Corso said.

Grass was put into Mercedes-Benz Stadium last summer for a doubleheader of matches between teams from England’s Premier League. It will also be put down for the two Copa America tournament scheduled to be played in June.

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Atlanta United’s 2024 schedule

Feb. 24 at Columbus, 2 p.m.

March 9 vs. New England, 7:30 p.m.

March 17 vs. Orlando, 7 p.m., FS1

March 23 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.

March 31 vs. Chicago, 3:30 p.m., FOX

April 6 at NYCFC, 7:30 p.m.

April 14 vs. Philadelphia, 2:30 p.m., FOX

April 20 vs. Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

April 27 at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.

May 4 vs. Minnesota, 7:30 p.m.

May 11 vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

May 15 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

May 18 at Nashville, 1:30 p.m.

May 25 vs. LAFC, 7:30 p.m.

May 29 at Miami, 7:30 p.m.

June 2 vs Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FOX

June 15 vs. Houston, 7:30 p.m.

June 19 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

June 22 at St. Louis, 8:30 p.m.

June 29 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m.

July 3 at New England, 7:30 p.m.

July 6 at Real Salt Lake, 9:30 p.m.

July 13 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

July 17 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m.

July 20 vs. Columbus, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 10:30 p.m.

Aug. 31 at Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 14 vs. Nashville, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 18 vs. Miami, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 2 vs. Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 5 vs. Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Orlando, 6 p.m.