Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta United FC
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Atlanta United with Its Permanent Pitch
The 2017 season marked the inaugural season of Atlanta United in MLS and the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The team played the first half of the season in Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium while their new home pitch was completing construction. Their temporary home provided a great launching point for the franchise, as a record 55,000 attended the first game and the team maintained an average attendance of more than 45,000 in their remaining games at the college stadium. In early September 2017, the team moved into its permanent home at the brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta. For the first time, the team has its own on-site locker room, training facilities, and coaches offices.
Food & Beverage 5
In addition to all the technological improvements Mercedes-Benz Stadium provides, food and beverage concessions for the United supporters are greatly improved through 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 United 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 Atlanta United has 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 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 with over 1,200 beer taps. Second, all food and beverages are sold at whole dollar amounts 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 build excitement about the team before it ever steps on the field. Atlanta United staff set about this task the moment Atlanta was granted an MLS franchise. They began by building Atlanta United as a brand with two simple words: Unite and Conquer. Events were held at every step of the process including the naming of the team, the hiring of the coach, the expansion draft, and even the reveal of the team’s home and away kits. All this hard work paid off with capacity crowds of 55,000 filling Bobby Dodd Stadium for the team’s first several matches.
When you enter the team’s new pitch at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, you immediately know you are in a stadium unlike any other. Depending on the weather, you may be able to enjoy the match 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 video board. It features 63,000 square feet of screen and is more than 58 feet tall. It not only shows replays and stats from the United match, it also provides highlights from games around MLS. The stadium seats 42,500 for soccer, but the team’s management is already considering expanding the soccer seating configuration considering the team’s phenomenal attendance record in its expansion season. On September 16, 2017, the United team ownership opened Mercedes-Benz Stadium to full capacity on a trial basis, and broke a 21-year-old MLS attendance record, with 70,425 fans in the stands.
You always have the feeling of being outdoors at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 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 to support to the roof. The columns are wrapped with video screens 101 feet high and measuring 71 feet in circumference and provide an ever-changing set of photos featuring the members of the Atlanta United squad.
Atlanta United realizes that a great soccer experience includes socializing with your friends. There are many 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-yard-long bar on the 300 level and a soccer lounge. Even if you are socializing it is impossible to miss a big play, as the stadium is equipped with more than 2,000 flat screen TVs spread throughout the facility.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium 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, home of the Atlanta Hawks, is 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.
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 the more than 40,000 fans who regularly attend the Atlanta United soccer matches can attest.
The groundwork for building a fan base from scratch began the day the franchise was awarded. Atlanta United staff fanned out to the diverse neighborhoods that make up the city of Atlanta with the goal of bringing various communities together as a United entity. The response was overwhelming as fan support groups were in place well in advance of the inaugural game.
These supporter sections form the backbone of the Atlanta United fan base. Four major supporter groups have been sanctioned by the team. The first is the Footie Mob Atlanta, whose goal is to blend the sport of soccer with the existing southern sports culture. Resurgence is the rowdiest of the supporter groups, as they sing, perform numerous cheers and stand throughout the entire game. Terminus Legion’s mission is to be an ambassador for the sport of soccer through community involvement. The Faction builds upon the already strong youth soccer movement in Atlanta. This group is made up of parents, youth coaches and youth, all working together to develop youth character through soccer.
Each group has its own cheers, songs, flags and approach on game day. Even though they are very different in many ways, they all come together to Unite and Conquer.
The Fan First Experience begins before you leave your house for the game. The Mercedes-Benz Stadium app provides up to the minute traffic conditions through the WAZE program, 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 facility has 40% more capacity for entry points into the stadium than existed at the Georgia Dome. 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. 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 probably have already filled up on food from the Fans First Menu or one of Atlanta’s finest restaurants. The United have thoughtfully provided you with 21-inch-wide seats – two inches wider than most professional sports stadiums.
When nature calls, the new stadium offers 22% more bathroom fixtures for men and 30% more fixtures for women than existed at the Georgia Dome. This alleviates long lines, even at halftime.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to an Atlanta United match are $40. The problem is often finding a ticket due to the team’s success. This means you must often resort to the secondary ticket market where prices are higher than face value. However, the experience of attending a United 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 professional sports venues. The cost of parking/public transportation is still lower than a majority of its sister 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 the Atlanta Falcons, the 2017 champions of the NFC in the NFL.
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). If a bid to host a future World Cup competition in the USA is successful, Mercedes-Benz Stadium would host some of the preliminary rounds.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium is the first Platinum Level LEED certified stadium in MLS. 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, Atlanta United, 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 out of poverty and blight. The organization will provide funds for economic development, job training, and educational improvements to these neighborhoods.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium entered into an agreement with the Savannah College of Art and Design to curate a public art collection with the stadium and on the stadium grounds. Soccer themed installations so far include pieces entitled “The Golden Goal” and “Soccer Cloud.”
Once the Georgia Dome next door is demolished and cleared away for green space, a 35-foot-tall mirror faceted soccer ball designed by Studio Roso will be installed on the grounds.
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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