Installation almost complete on Falcons’ massive video board

The halo board around the opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s retractable roof show some test images during a media tour Thursday. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Credit: Hyosub Shin

The halo board around the opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s retractable roof show some test images during a media tour Thursday. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Installation is almost complete at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on the largest video board in U.S. sports, a 63,800-square-foot screen that figures to be a centerpiece of the Falcons’ new home.

The halo-shaped screen, which measures 58 feet tall and 1,100 feet around, is being assembled in 600 pieces — all but 44 of which had been installed as of Thursday afternoon, when the media got a tour of the stadium. A portion of the board was lit up with test patterns.

“If you unwound that (screen) and stood it up on end, it would be the tallest building in Atlanta,” said Scott Jenkins, the stadium’s general manager.

Drew Slaven, Mercedes-Benz USA’s vice president of marketing, called the massive video board “one of the anchors that made this stadium what this stadium is.”

“Until you stand here and see a human being dwarfed by it, I don’t think you really get the magnitude,” Slaven said.

He said the automaker is shooting some content for the board, which surrounds the opening of the retractable roof, with 360-degree cameras.

“When play stops and people look at the board and see some Mercedes-Benz, it’s going to be as entertaining, we hope, as the game itself,” Slaven said.

The $1.5-billion-plus stadium is scheduled to open with a Falcons-Arizona Cardinals exhibition game Aug. 26.

Also noticed during Thursday’s tour:

  • Workers are in the process of installing a translucent, plastic-like material, called ETFE, to the top of the eight steel petals that make up the retractable portion of the roof. The ETFE, which will allow some natural light into the building while keeping the elements out, is being installed with the roof in the closed position.
  • Work continues on the club spaces attached to premium lower-level seats along the Falcons' sideline: the Mercedes-Benz Club, where a 9-foot-high by 16-foot-wide TV hangs, and the even more exclusive AMG Lounge, where windows provide a view of the tunnel through which Falcons players will enter and exit the field. (AMG is Mercedes' high-performance brand.)
  • Football helmets from every Georgia high school team are hanging in a display on a lower-level concourse wall.

The media tour showed much remaining to be done before the stadium is ready for football and soccer games: finishing the roof, installing the artificial-turf field and a lot of things in between.

Jenkins said he “fully” expects the retractable roof to be operable when the stadium debuts, although it seems likely the roof will be closed for the Falcons’ Aug. 26 exhibition.

“The reality is in August with 90-degree temperatures and high humidity, I don’t think people are going to want to sit in here and sweat after experiencing the Georgia Dome,” Jenkins said. But “if it’s a beautiful night” for the Falcons’ regular-season home opener Sept. 17, “we’d like to have the roof open,” he said.

Jenkins, who has opened three stadiums in other cities, said Mercedes-Benz Stadium is “in better shape than is typical” 72 days before the first event. He noted many parts of the stadium, such as concession stands and suites, are largely finished.

“We are in a good place,” he said. “But there’s a lot to do yet and we’re running out of time, so you can tell the pace has quickened.”