The Georgia Dome on Jan. 14, 2017. (HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM)
Photo: Henry P. Taylor
Photo: Henry P. Taylor

Date is set for implosion of Georgia Dome

Recent progress on the construction of Mercedes-Benz Stadium has led officials to set a date for demolishing the Georgia Dome next door.

The Dome — the Falcons’ home for the past 25 years — is now scheduled for implosion at 7:30 a.m. Nov. 20, the team’s parent company, AMB Group, said Friday.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Dome’s successor, is slated to open Aug. 26 with a Falcons-Arizona Cardinals exhibition game.

The original plan was for the Dome to be imploded in July, but that plan was scrapped in April to keep the building in place as an insurance policy against further construction delays with the new stadium. Issues related to steel work on the retractable roof caused three previous delays in the opening date — first from March 1 to June 1, then to July 30, then to Aug. 26.

But stadium officials gained confidence in the late-August opening after the recent completion of structural steel work and the movement last weekend of the motorized roof from open to closed for the first time.

“Significant progress on Mercedes-Benz Stadium is achieved every day, and we’ve hit a few exciting milestones on the roof over the last week,” Steve Cannon, AMB Group’s CEO, said in a statement Friday. “With strong confidence, we’ve asked the contractors to move forward getting the Georgia Dome ready for implosion on Nov. 20.”

Decommissioning the Dome and preparing it for implosion — a time-consuming process that was put on hold in April — will restart “in earnest over the next two weeks,” according to AMB Group. That work will include removing the seats, video boards and extensive equipment.

The date set for implosion is the Monday before Thanksgiving. The Falcons play at Seattle that night on “Monday Night Football.”

“We are pleased with the restart of the decommissioning process and have outlined conditions for approval of demolition on Nov. 20 of this year,” Georgia World Congress Center Authority executive director Frank Poe said in a statement.

Those conditions, detailed in a letter Friday from Poe to Falcons president Rich McKay, include a requirement that contractors install plywood on Congress Center windows that face the implosion site and otherwise would be “at risk.” Some of the plywood installation can’t begin until after events at the Congress Center on the evening of Nov. 19.

The letter also stipulates that “in the days following the implosion event,” workers first must clear sidewalk space in preparation for the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Dec. 2 and a large convention at the Congress Center on Dec. 7-12.

AMB Group officials have said they expect the retractable roof to be fully operable when the stadium opens and that they expect many Falcons and Atlanta United games to be played with the roof open.

However, getting the roof into the closed position last weekend was a significant development because several major events — the Chick-fil-A Kickoff college-football games Sept. 2 and Sept. 4, the SEC title game and the College Football Playoff national championship game Jan. 8 — have expressed intentions to play with the roof closed to control the conditions.

The roof’s eight steel petals, which weigh 500 tons each, were closed over two days in a meticulous process that involved moving them slowly and incrementally while taking sophisticated measurements and fine-tuning alignments. That was a far different process than the ultimate plan of opening or closing the roof in 12 minutes with the push of a single button.

The Georgia Dome site will be transformed into a green space, slated to open in 2018, that will be used for parking and tailgating on game days and community events on other days.

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