Mercedes-Benz Stadium roof will be open for 10 days as work nears finish

Falcons players enter the field for warmups before the Sept. 17 game against Green Bay, the only Falcons game played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium so far with the roof open.
Falcons players enter the field for warmups before the Sept. 17 game against Green Bay, the only Falcons game played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium so far with the roof open.

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

Mercedes-Benz Stadium's retractable roof, which has been closed for all but two events, will be open for 10 days beginning Tuesday as part of what is being called the final phase of work on its automation.

That means Atlanta United’s next home match, June 2 against Philadelphia, is slated to be played with the roof open, regardless of weather.

Following the 10-day period in which construction activities will require that the roof be continuously open in a locked position, rain or shine, “weeks” will be spent on “final commissioning work to complete the automation,”  according to stadium officials. Thereafter, operation of the eight-panel roof will be turned over by the contractor to the stadium staff.

“Upon completion, the roof will be able to open or close in as few as 12 minutes at the push of a button,” stadium officials reiterated Friday.

Steve Cannon, CEO of Falcons and Atlanta United parent company AMB Group, said the fully operable roof will be worth the wait.

“From the design phase, we knew this roof would be a unique part of the stadium and fan experience, offering a surprise-and-delight feature that no other building can offer,” Cannon said in a statement. “The complexity of the design and our heavy events schedule has made it take longer than we had hoped, but great things take time and we’re happy to see the finish line.”

Once automation work is completed, team and stadium officials said they will determine whether the  roof will be open or closed for Falcons and Atlanta United games “based on weather conditions and the safety and comfort of attendees.” The teams have said in the past that they intend to play as many games as practical with the roof open.

For third-party events, such as college football games, the roof position will be decided by the third party in cooperation with stadium officials.

The Super Bowl will be played in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Feb. 3, 2019, and the NFL executive in charge of the mega-event said the league would welcome the option of playing it with the roof open.

"We ... certainly would consider if it the weather is good," Peter O'Reilly, NFL senior vice president of events, said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last month.

“We will be there as we head into games in the fall,” O’Reilly said, “and we will be watching (the roof). I know they are confident on their end that it will be working well.”

Two of the past four Super Bowls have been played in retractable-roof stadiums. The roof was closed for the February 2017 game in Houston and open for the February 2015 game in Glendale, Ariz.

The roof timeline announced by Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Friday is in keeping with that outlined by Cannon in a March interview with the AJC. He said at the time that the roof would be fully automated by "early summer" and described the work still to be done as primarily "final balancing" followed by "final automation."

Near the end of the automation work, Cannon said in March, there would be a 10-day period in which the roof would need to remain continuously in the open position for construction purposes.

“Early summer is when it’s going to be a push-button (operation), meaning push the button and 11 minutes later it’s open,” Cannon said in the earlier interview.

Issues related to the first-of-its-kind roof caused three construction delays, totaling about six months, before the $1.5 billion-plus stadium made its debut with the problematic roof closed last August.

The roof was open for a Falcons game Sept. 17 and an Atlanta United game Oct. 22, but otherwise has been closed. In those two cases, moving the roof took about two hours, rather than the prescribed 11 or 12 minutes.

Work on the roof reintensified after the College Football Playoff Championship game in early January.

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