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Plan: Stadium roof will be closed for rest of Falcons season, open for one soccer game

Current plans call for the retractable roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium to be open for only one more public event this year: Atlanta United’s Oct. 22 regular-season finale against Toronto, provided weather conditions are favorable that day.

AMB Group, parent company of the Falcons and Atlanta United, said Friday the roof will not be open for any more Falcons games this season because of continuing work on its mechanization. 

The problematic roof of the $1.5 billion stadium has been open for only one event so far -- the Falcons’ Sept. 17 regular-season home opener against Green Bay -- and was closed despite excellent weather for Sunday’s game against Buffalo.

It took about two hours to open the roof Sept. 17, far longer than the 12 minutes it is ultimately supposed to take.  

“Ongoing work to fully automate MBS’s unique roof is progressing, and sequencing of the work will allow it to be open for the Toronto FC match,” AMB Group said in a statement Friday. “Based on the current work and events schedule for the rest of the year, including potential playoff games for Atlanta United, Atlanta Falcons home games, the SEC Championship game, the College Football Playoff Championship game in early January, as well as many other events, the Oct. 22 match will be the only public event the rest of this season that will be played with the roof open.” 

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An AMB Group spokeswoman confirmed that the statement means the plan is to keep the roof closed for all Falcons games the rest of the season.

Throughout the planning and building of the stadium, Falcons officials had said they intended to play most games with the roof open.

The acknowledgement that it will be closed for the rest of football season underscores the continuing difficulties in getting the eight-petal structure up to speed and specification.

Issues related to the roof caused three construction delays, totaling about six months, before the stadium made its debut with the roof closed  in August.

The roof has been closed for Atlanta United’s first six matches in the stadium. The Oct. 22 match, at which Atlanta United has said it will break the MLS single-game attendance record  it set last month, is the team’s only remaining regular-season home game.

Even before the issues arose with the roof, officials with the SEC and the College Football Playoff had said they intended to play their championship games under a closed roof to eliminate weather variables.  

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