The scene inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Thursday: Dirt was hauled into the stadium and dumped on the field in preparation for this weekend’s Monster Jam shows.
Photo: Contributed
Photo: Contributed

Leadoff: 5,000 tons of dirt dumped on Super Bowl field for Monster Jam

Three weeks ago, Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s artificial turf immaculately featured the logos of the New England Patriots, the Los Angeles Rams and Super Bowl LIII. 

Now, it is covered with about 5,000 tons – 10 million pounds! -- of dirt. 

The dirt is there for a Monster Jam trucks event Saturday and Sunday, the stadium’s first major public event since the Super Bowl.

Hauled into the stadium in roughly 300 truckloads this week, the dirt was dumped on top of plywood-like material that now protects the field, according to Monster Jam tour managers Ken Olson and Mike Moser. 

“The way it works is, we take a geotech fabric and roll it over the existing field to protect it, and then we put a composite plastic in the shape of plywood over top of the fabric,” Moser said. “Then the dirt goes on top of that.” 

After the monster trucks shows this weekend, the dirt will remain in the stadium for another week and will be reconfigured for a Supercross motorcycle racing event March 2. After that, the dirt will be removed and the place cleaned up for Atlanta United’s home opener March 10. 

“We do a good job of keeping moisture in the dirt, so there’s as little dust as possible,” Olson said. Still, suites and some lower seats were protected with plastic as the dirt was moved in and moved around. After the dirt is removed, “you can barely tell we were there,” Olson said.

The dirt is stored at a site near the stadium for reuse every year. 

Monster Jam was held annually in the Georgia Dome from 1993 through 2017 -- in fact, it was the last public event there before the Dome closed in March 2017 -- and was in Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the first time in February 2018. It’s one of many annual events that relocated from The Dome to The Benz.

(For more information on Monster Jam, look here.)

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LEADOFF LINKS & NOTES

> The Hawks (19-39) return to action from the All-Star break tonight, facing the Detroit Pistons at State Farm Arena. An ESPN.com panel’s latest NBA power rankings have the Hawks No. 25 among the league’s 30 teams. See the full rankings here

> If you’re still holding out hope of Craig Kimbrel back in the Braves’ bullpen, here’s the latest breakdown on Kimbrel’s free agency from MLB analyst (and former GM) Jim Bowden on CBS Sports HQ:  “We keep hearing again about the Braves. We keep hearing maybe the Red Sox. But neither one of those teams want to step up and do a long-term deal. So the question is, would Craig Kimbrel be willing to go back to Boston on a one-year deal? Would he be willing to sign with Atlanta for a one-year deal?”

> ICYMI: Unrelated to Monster Jam and Supercross, Mercedes-Benz Stadium officials have said they plan to replace the building’s artificial turf later this year. That will be done before the start of the Falcons season and during the Atlanta United season, stadium general manager Scott Jenkins said recently.

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