Structural steel completed for Mercedes-Benz Stadium roof

The final piece of structural steel was lifted to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium roof on Wednesday. (Contributed photo.)

The final piece of structural steel was lifted to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium roof on Wednesday. (Contributed photo.)

Mercedes-Benz Stadium reached an important construction milestone Wednesday afternoon.

“The last piece of structural steel just went up,” Bill Darden, president of project manager Darden & Company, told the AJC.

The eight-ton piece, 22 feet in diameter, was lifted by crane to the top of the retractable roof and placed into position 320 feet above the playing field.

“It’s affectionately and literally called the button, like the button on top of a ball cap,” Darden said. “Literally, from the blimp, it will look like a button on a ball cap.”

The piece was bolted to one of the roof’s eight retractable petals. It will act as an “umbrella” over the intersection of the eight petals when the roof is in the closed position.

While considerable work remains to be done on the retractable roof of the new Falcons stadium, Darden said the installation of the final piece of roof structural steel, which “also happens to be the last structural steel for the whole building,” was a cause for celebration.

“Oh my goodness, absolutely, it’s huge,” he said. “It’s huge factually and schedule-wise, and it’s huge emotionally.

“This is a wonderful celebration because you have to get the steel up in order to finish the roof. We enjoyed it for about an hour and 20 minutes … and then we go right back to the next thing in line and we just keep going. But you’ve got to take time and thank the workers.”

The roof contains a mind-boggling 27,000 tons of steel.

The final structural steel beam for the fixed portion of the roof was installed last fall, but structural-steel work on the retractable portion continued until Wednesday.

Workers now will dismantle and remove one of the two cranes on the field, Darden said.

A different type of crane will be brought in soon for the installation of the 58-foot-high, 360-degree, halo-shaped video board that will circle the roof.

South Dakota-based Daktronics, manufacturer of the massive video board, reported Wednesday on Twitter that the “first of 40+ truckloads are preparing to leave Brookings, S.D., and head to Atlanta.”

Falcons parent company AMB Group announced last month that delays associated with the roof have pushed back the stadium's opening date for the third time to Aug. 26 and that demolition of the Georgia Dome has been put on hold as an "insurance policy."

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