- Lloyd Brown
Mercedes-Benz Stadium - Atlanta Falcons
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Mercedes-Benz Stadium 1 AMB Dr Atlanta, GA 30313
Year Opened: 2017
The Mercedes-Benz of Pro Football Stadiums
Like most teams in the NFL, the COVID-19 pandemic caused lots of stress on the players and a loss of funds from ticket sales. The Atlanta Falcons also suffered from two very frustrating seasons with many last-minute losses. This eventually led to the hiring of a new head coach, a new general manager, and unfortunately the trading of All-Pro Julio Jones in order to free up money under the salary cap, while also banking some draft choices as the team rebuilds for the future.
One part of the team that continued to surprise and exceed in this difficult environment was the team’s home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The stadium was able to handle partial capacity during the pandemic season, cutting some of the team’s financial losses, but it also stepped forward as a resource to the community during the tough times. The venue served as a polling place for both the November elections and the senatorial runoffs that followed. Later, it served as the city’s largest vaccination center for COVID. Both community efforts helped cement the bond between the stadium and its surrounding community.
One unforeseen victory occurred just before the beginning of the 2021-2022 season when Mercedes-Benz Stadium won a victory over hated rival the New Orleans Saints in a “battle of the Benz’s.” For several years both Atlanta and New Orleans had naming rights with Mercedes-Benz. Shortly before the season began the Saints announced they had reached a naming rights agreement to rename their home field the Caesar’s Superdome. This clears the way for Atlanta to be the only Mercedes-Benz-affiliated stadium in the country.
Food & Beverage 4
Mercedes-Benz still offers one of the most expansive menus of any professional stadium in any league. One of the most unique areas in the stadium is on the 200 level, where the 100 Yards of Concessions is set up on the concourse. The concourse is painted and lined off to represent a football field. The support beams on this concourse feature profiles of many of the Falcons players. This portion of the second floor concourse contains the biggest concentration of concession stands in the stadium. They remain busy throughout the game as they offer a Fans First menu, where a family of four can buy the basic foods (a drink, a hot dog or Coke, and some fries) for less than $40 dollars. You would think this would result in long lines, but they do not, as Mercedes-Benz Stadium operated on a cashless basis well before the pandemic struck. Fans also fill up their beverages (with free refills) from drink stations away from the order lines.
There are obviously more formal eating areas in the stadium that offer sit-down service. In 2021 the Falcons have added the 4 Rivers Smokehouse BBQ restaurant, a King’s Hawaiian Grill, which serves Kalua pork sliders and Kahuna Dogs, Moe’s Southwestern Grill, and Pita Mediterranean Grill. Two existing restaurants, Molly B’s and the West Nest added second locations.
One thing that deserves an “extra” is that a priority in hiring is given to the residents of the Westside community that borders the stadium and has a high employment rate.
With the large influx of fans and tourists in the neighborhood, eating establishments such as the STATS Sportsbar, the Optimist Restaurant, and the Hudson Grille survived the pandemic, as the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and State Farm Arena both allowed limited amounts of fans to attend each game in 2020.
Despite the opening of two new stadiums during the 2021 season, Mercedes-Benz offers a stunning atmosphere to watch a football game. While its Halo scoreboard was surpassed by the 100-yard-long version in LA, it is still one of the few stadiums in the league to have a 360-degree center-hung scoreboard in the league. The stadium also awes fans with its ability to bring the outdoors inside through its retractable roof and the large Window on the City at one end of the stadium. The roof design also serves to keep the crowd noise booming whereas its two new competitors have fabric roofs that absorb the sound.
There is also a feeling of optimism in the building that has not been present in past years. Except for Tampa Bay, most of the Falcon’s divisional opponents are in rebuilding modes with new quarterbacks at the helm. Matt Ryan has years of experience with team play schemes. Hopefully, this will be enough to earn a wildcard spot.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium lies just south of Atlanta’s most concentrated areas of sports, parks, museums, and downtown living thanks to the proximity of Atlanta Centennial Olympic Park. This development produced a wide variety of museums, sports infrastructure, and other amenities following the competition of the 1996 Olympic Games. Among the facilities that sprung up in this corridor is the College Football Hall of Fame, the World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium, and the center for Civil and Human Rights. The former Philips Arena next door to Mercedes-Benz Stadium underwent a massive updating following the Olympics and now is known as State Farm Arena, the home of last season’s overachieving Atlanta Hawks of the NBA. This entire area is within walking distance of the stadium.
One of the best ways to get fans fired up before a game is to have an organized pep rally in one central location. For many years Falcon fans were scattered in numerous parking decks, the “Gulch” – an old railroad switching yard below the base of the stadium, or at area bars. That all changed with the opening of the Home Depot Backyard, a centrally located open field in the footprint of the now-demolished Georgia Dome. This gives fans a single place to unite pregame and enjoy BBQ, skill games, and performances by the Atlanta Falcon cheerleaders and Freddie the Falcon.
These efforts seem to have paid off, as the Falcons were able to expand their season ticket base, while many teams have seen their PSL’s (personal seat license) and season ticket renewals drop precipitously after last season (2020). Many look forward to the changes that will naturally occur with a new coach and general manager.
The Falcons continue to successfully manage to get their fans to the games with the least amount of hassle. They continue to partner with the WAZE app to guide fans around the bottlenecks and suggest alternate routes to the stadium. The MARTA rail system has two transit stations located on the Mercedes-Benz campus as a public transit option for getting to the games.
Once at the stadium, the electronic monitor gates will get you quickly and efficiently into the building. The concourses are wide and easily navigable. The stadium has also added five additional exits out of the stadium to facilitate a quick getaway after the game.
Return on Investment 3
Your return on investment can be very good if you make some simple choices. Parking can be $30 or more if you choose to park in one of the lots near the stadium. Taking the MARTA rail system directly to the stadium costs you nothing to park in a MARTA lot and just $2.50 each way to ride the train. Choosing the Family’s First menu costs a family of four less than $40. A concession stand right next door might charge you $15 for just one person’s food.
Ticket prices begin at $40 for the upper-level seats, while seats at the 100 level can cost in excess of $150. Frankly, the view from anywhere in Mercedes-Benz Stadium is pretty good, plus you have the Halo board rerun of the preceding play featured on a movie theatre-sized screen. It’s also good to know that divisional games, Dallas and New England are going to be priced as premium games. A game against the Jets or Chargers can be 20% lower in cost. Finally, if the Falcons are out of the playoff picture, games in late November and December are very cheap on the secondary market.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium also serves as the home pitch for Atlanta United of the MLS. The team won its first MLS Cup in 2019 on its home pitch.
Mercedes-Benz is also very conscientious about climate change and is LEED Certified at the Platinum Level thanks to its solar panels, a 680,000-gallon cistern to gather rainwater for later use, and recycling programs.
The stadium was cited as the Sports Breakthrough of the Year by the Sports Business Journal after the implementation of its Fans First Concessions pricing program.
Mercedes–Benz Stadium is continually looking for ways it can serve its community while tweaking its game day procedures to improve the fan experience. It has a strong record in this regard, as it annually hosts the SEC Championship game, is in the rotation for the College Football National Championship game, and hosts a Peach Bowl Game on New Year’s Day, it is a serious contender to host one or more World Cup games in 2026.