Good morning. This is LEADOFF, the early buzz in Atlanta sports.
In another milepost toward next month's opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the cranes have been removed from the field and preparations have begun for installation of the artificial-turf playing surface.
Work progressed Monday on the subsurface for the turf.
Until recently, the future field was covered with cranes and other construction equipment and materials.
The $1.5 billion-plus stadium will have a FieldTurf “Revolution 360” playing surface, which also is used in Seattle’s CenturyLink Field and New England’s Gillette Stadium.
Falcons officials initially hoped to have natural grass in their retractable-roof stadium, but they decided on artificial turf in 2013 because parts of the field won't get enough sun light for grass. After announcing a different turf provider early last year, they confirmed the switch to FieldTurf in April.
High above the field, the stadium's halo-shaped video board – 58 feet tall by 1,100 feet around — is installed and operational. Work continues on programming and testing it.
The stadium is scheduled to open Aug. 26 with a Falcons-Arizona Cardinals exhibition game.
Eleven sports events are slated to be played in the stadium in its first month of operation, including two Falcons exhibition games, one Falcons regular-season game (Sept. 17 vs. Green Bay), six Atlanta United matches (the first on Sept. 10) and two nationally televised college football games (Alabama vs. Florida State on Sept. 2 and Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee on Sept. 4).
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READ ON …
- Braves manager Brian Snitker said Monday that rookie shortstop Dansby Swanson won't be in the everyday lineup for now, and Snitker didn't rule out the possibility of Swanson being sent to the minors. Swanson has a .220 batting average and 14 errors. See David O'Brien's story here.
- Georgia Tech's football team was picked to finish third in the ACC Coastal Division in a poll of media members. The poll, released Monday, picked Miami to win the Coastal and Florida State to finish ahead of Clemson in the Atlantic. See Ken Sugiura's story here.
- The Braves drew their second-largest local TV audience of the season for Sunday's win over the Diamondbacks. See story here.
- Rave reviews — i.e., comparisons to Andruw Jones, Hanley Ramirez and Ken Griffey Jr. — greeted Braves prospect Ronald Acuna at Triple-A. See Carroll Rogers Walton's story here.
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