The Rams’ and Patriots’ logos and names are freshly painted in the end zones and along the sidelines. Super Bowl LIII graphics dominate the video boards and the exterior walls.
It looks as if Mercedes-Benz Stadium is just about ready for the big game.
“You look at the field, and it looks like we’re ready to play tomorrow,” said Scott Jenkins, the stadium’s general manager, as he stood on the artificial-turf playing surface Tuesday, less than two weeks until Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 3.
“Things are starting to look like the Super Bowl,” added Eric Finkelstein, the NFL’s senior director of event operations. “We’re right on track of where we should be at this time to ensure we have everything set up properly.”
NFL and Mercedes-Benz Stadium officials opened the venue to the media Tuesday for a look at the state of preparations.
Hundreds of workers are on the job throughout the stadium, including a 35-person crew tending the field under the supervision of Ed Mangan, the NFL’s field director for the Super Bowl. Mangan, better known in Atlanta as the Braves’ long-time field director, said he is working his “29th or 30th” Super Bowl.
Among the questions NFL officials got Tuesday: Will the stadium’s retractable roof be open when the Rams and Patriots play?
Finkelstein reiterated the NFL’s months-long position that the league would welcome playing the Super Bowl with the roof open, but that the answer ultimately will depend on the weather.
“We haven’t made a decision whether we’re going to have it open or not,” Finkelstein said. “If the weather cooperates and all the other factors line up, we would love to have it open. But we will see. It’s something we are talking about constantly.”
He said the timing of a decision will depend on what next week brings weather-wise -- and how the game-day forecast looks, both in terms of predicted temperature and precipitation, as Feb. 3 draws nearer.
“I think it’s going to be a week-of-the-game decision,” Finkelstein said. “If the weather is trending a certain way, (the decision) may happen earlier in the week. If it’s trending another way, it may happen that weekend. We’re going to make the determination when we feel confident one way or another.”
If it’s too cold to have the roof open for the game, Jenkins raised the possibility of having it open in the pregame hours, then closing it before kickoff.
“We’re looking at every possibility,” Finkelstein said.
In addition to the newly painted field and the proliferation of Super Bowl graphics, noticeable changes inside the stadium Tuesday included temporary broadcast booths, the conversion of two upper-bowl seating sections to auxiliary press space, an operations center constructed on the upper-level sky-bridge and lighting trusses installed for the halftime show.
“What’s different about the Super Bowl from a regular game is that we can get the building ready in a day (for a regular game),” Jenkins said. “This one is really about a six-week ramp-up to the big game.”
While the field looked virtually game-ready Tuesday, complete with NFL and Super Bowl logos, it will have to repainted Feb. 2, the eve of the game, because next week’s rehearsals for the halftime show and the pregame and postgame ceremonies will put thousands of people on the playing surface and “start wearing the paint down,” Mangan said.
“We’ve got to keep grooming and primping this field,” Mangan said. And after all the rehearsals are done, “we may be painting it into the wee hours (of Super Bowl Sunday).”
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