Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta Falcons
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Falcons’ Futuristic New Nest
The 2017-2018 season marks the inaugural season of the Atlanta Falcons in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. This is the team’s third home in the club’s more than 50 year history, but the first in which the Falcons determined the specifications of the stadium. This obviously includes the architecture and design work, but it also carries over into what the Falcons call the Fans First Experience. The Falcons, like all NFL teams, realize that attendance has dropped across the league, as more fans decide to watch the games at home or through other electronic media. Fans First is designed to answer every aspect of improving the fan experience at the stadium and give them a reason to attend the game in person.
Food and Beverage 5
In addition to all the technological improvements the new stadium provides, food and beverage concessions have improved dramatically under the Fans First Experience. This is due to three central principles: 1) provide food at prices a family of four can afford, 2) provide the best selection of foods Atlanta has to offer, and 3) make the concessions process as hassle-free as possible.
Under the Fan First menu, a family of four is able to buy the basic fan food items for a total of less than $30. At a Falcons game a soda is $2 (with unlimited refills). Water, hot dogs, pretzels, and popcorn are also priced at $2 each. Pizza, nachos, and waffle fries are priced at $3. The most expensive item on the Fan First menu is $5, which covers the cost of a 12 ounce domestic beer.
Atlanta has become a foodie town and the Falcons have invited some of the best hometown restaurants to set up shop on game days at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. These restaurants include Antico, Chick-fil-A, Delia’s Chicken Sausage, Farm Burger, Fox Brothers BBQ, King of Pops, Sublime Doughnuts, and the Varsity. Each of these restaurants has agreed to sell their menu items at the stadium for the same price as they would in their own restaurants.
To lessen the hassle of going to the concession stand, Mercedes-Benz Stadium has implemented several time saving concepts. First the new stadium offers 673 concession points including 24 bars and restaurants and over 1,200 beer taps. Second, all food and beverages are sold at whole dollar amount to eliminate the time needed to make change. Finally, all refills are taken care of at free self-serve locations which are located away from the concession stands to ease any congestion that might arise.
One of the first ways to create a great atmosphere at a game is to put a good product on the field. The 2016-2017 Falcons certainly did that, as they had one of the highest scoring offenses in NFL history and made it all the way to the Super Bowl. Through free agency and the draft, they have hopefully addressed their few weaknesses.
When you enter Mercedes-Benz Stadium, you will immediately know you are in a venue unlike any other. Depending on the weather, you may be able to enjoy the moderate climate Atlanta enjoys in an outside environment, or during inclement weather the roof can be closed. Unlike other retractable roof stadiums, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium roof closes like the lens of a camera.
While you are looking up, you will also see the 360 degree Halo HD videoboard. It features 63,000 square feet of screen and is more than 58 feet tall. It will not only show replays and stats from the Falcons game, it will also provide highlights from games around the league.
The stadium seats 71,000 for football, but can hold up to 83,000 for other types of events. There are 7,600 club seats, an increase of more than 2,000 over the Georgia Dome.
Another major change from the Georgia Dome is the feeling of being outdoors, even if the roof is closed. One entire end of the stadium is called the Window to the City and provides a stunning view of the Atlanta skyline. The support beams located on either side of the window do far more than provide support to the roof. The columns are wrapped with video screens 101 feet high and measuring 71 feet in circumference and will provide an ever changing set of graphics.
Finally, the Falcons realize that a great fan experience includes socializing with your friends. They have created a number of spaces within Mercedes-Benz Stadium to gather and chat (without irritating the fans seated next to you). These include the Sky Bridge in front of the Window on the City at the concourse level, a one hundred foot long bar on the 300 level, and a fantasy football lounge. Even if you are socializing, it will be impossible to miss a big play, as the stadium is equipped with more than 2,000 flat screen TVs spread throughout the facility.
In one sense the neighborhood surrounding the Falcons home has not changed much, as it is located directly across the street from the site of the Georgia Dome. This means that it is located at the epicenter of Atlanta’s biggest tourist attractions, including the Centennial Olympic Park, the World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium, the National Center for Human and Civil Rights, and the College Football Hall of Fame. Philips Arena is still just across the plaza from the stadium. Hotels within walking distance include the Omni and Embassy Suites. Popular restaurants in the area include Taco Mac, McCormick and Schmick’s, and STATS.
Falcons fans have stuck with the team through thick and thin for more than 50 years. For the most part those years have been on the thin side. However, the last 10 years have produced the most wins in Falcons history and their second trip to the Super Bowl.
In the South football is a religion, and Atlantans go to “early church” then head downtown to enjoy an afternoon of tailgating and football. You will see all manner of red and black outfits (not hard to find… as the Falcons and UGA share the same team colors!) and see plenty of signs supporting their favorite Falcon. You can usually expect to see Falcon Superfan Samuel L. Jackson, either in person or on the big screen at the beginning of each game, urging the fans to “Rise Up”. The main rivalry game over the years for the Falcons has been the New Orleans Saints, but the Carolina Panther rivalry has grown to near equal proportions.
Over the years, Atlanta sports fans have been given a bad rep as poor sports fans. If that was true, it is certainly changing, as anyone who attended the last two playoff games in the Georgia Dome, or the 55,000 fans who attended the first game of the expansion Atlanta United soccer team, can attest.
The Fans First Experience begins before you leave your house for the game. The Falcons app provides up to the minute traffic conditions through the WAZE app, as well as detailed information on the nearest rapid rail station to your location, as the MARTA Rapid Rail System has a station located immediately adjacent to the stadium. Once you get to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Falcons have created 40% more capacity for entry points into the stadium. The security and ticket entry points are outside the stadium, allowing you to tailgate in the 61,000 square foot fan plaza after you clear security. The plaza features the world’s largest bird sculpture, a steel falcon weighing 73,000 pounds with a 64 foot wingspan. This fan plaza is open before, during and after the games. Once inside the stadium you will find very open concourses with several open gathering points to meet up with your friends.
By the time you have headed to your seats, you will probably have already filled up on food from the Fans First Menu or one of Atlanta’s finest restaurants. The Falcons have thoughtfully provided you with 21 inch wide seats, 2 inches wider than they were in the Georgia Dome.
When nature calls, the new stadium has 22% more bathroom fixtures for men, and 30% more fixtures for women. This has alleviated long lines, even at halftime.
Return on Investment 4
Although the price of tickets has gone up significantly (including the first ever use of seat licenses in Atlanta), the experience of attending a game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium has also increased in value. The Fans First initiative has brought the concession prices down to a fraction of what is found in most NFL venues. The cost of parking/public transportation is still lower than a majority of other NFL stadiums and the many technological advances found throughout the facility are unique to the league and the sports world in general.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium is also the home of Atlanta United FC, one of the newest members of MLS.
Within four years of its opening Mercedes-Benz Stadium will host the NCAA Football Championship Game (2018), the Super Bowl (2019), and the NCAA Final Four (2020).
Mercedes-Benz Stadium is the first Platinum Level LEED certified stadium in the NFL. The stadium features more than 4,000 solar panels and has a 680,000 gallon cistern to collect rainwater for later use.
The Atlanta Falcons and Mercedes-Benz Stadium are spearheading Momentum: Westside, a three year program to assist the English Avenue and Vine City neighborhoods adjoining the stadium to rise up out of poverty and blight. The organization will provide funds for economic development, job training, and educational improvements to these neighborhoods.
The Falcons employ a fulltime director of Fan Engagement who is on site during every game. Fans with a complaint or compliment about their fan experience can use the Fan Matters blog and receive a response within minutes.
OMNI Hotel at CNN Center
100 CNN Center
Atlanta, GA 30303
Embassy Suites by Hilton Atlanta at Centennial Olympic Park
267 Marietta St NW
Atlanta, GA 30313
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