Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta United FC
Atlanta United Unites a City
When it was first announced that Atlanta was going to receive an MLS expansion team, there was very little clamor in the local sports community. After all the city had professional soccer in the past, including a NASL Championship won by the Atlanta Chiefs in the 1960’s. But this time it was going to be very different.
Today Atlanta is one of the most diverse cities in the country. It has had a large Hispanic population since the 1960’s. The city has also become the United States headquarters for several international companies, including Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Siemens and Kia. Soccer has flourished at both the youth and high school level throughout the Metro Atlanta area. The city had come to a standstill to watch the World Cup, even after the United States did not qualify for the tournament.
As soon as the team name was announced, the marketing team set about bringing all these diverse groups together under the theme United. Their efforts have been rewarded by an overwhelming response by the community and creating a unified fan base overnight. The team has brought the city together in a way that goes way beyond sports. It has brought a sense of community to Atlanta that did not exist before. It’s no surprise that Atlanta was chosen to host the 2018 MLS All Star Game.
Food & Beverage 5
Mercedes-Benz Stadium continues to offer its very successful Fans First Menu:
Under the Fan First menu, a family of four can 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.
The stadium has implemented several time saving concepts in its food and beverage areas. First the 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 amounts which reduces 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. Atlanta United has certainly done that. In just its first two years, the team has advanced to the MLS playoffs, while vying for the MLS Shield for most points in a season in 2018. The team has also broken several attendance records, including the individual game, single game average and season long levels. The team set the single game record of 72,243 attendees on October 22, 2017 and led the MLS in attendance for both the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium is a stadium unlike any other. Unlike other retractable roof stadiums, the Mercedes-Benz roof opens and 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. The stadium seats 42,500 in its soccer configuration but can be expanded to 71,000 based on demand. This creates the largest stadium capacity in the MLS.
You’ll also have 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 are wrapped with video screens 101 feet high and measuring 71 feet in circumference and provide an ever-changing set of graphics.
Finally, Atlanta United realizes that a great fan experience includes socializing with your friends. They have created several spaces within Mercedes-Benz Stadium to gather and chat. 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 sports lounge. Even if you are socializing it will be impossible to miss the action on the pitch, as the stadium is equipped with more than 2,000 flat screen TV’s spread throughout the facility.
The neighborhood surrounding Atlanta United’s home pitch has changed a great deal since 2017, as the Georgia Dome next door was demolished to make way for the Home Depot Backyard. The newly renovated State Farm Arena has reopened to rave reviews and is located just across the plaza from the stadium. Mercedes-Benz Stadium is still just a few blocks from the epicenter of Atlanta’s tourism attractions, including Centennial Olympic Park, the CNN Center, the World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium and Center for Civil and Human Rights. Hotels within walking distance include the Omni and Embassy Suites. Popular restaurants in the area include Taco Mac, McCormick and Schmick’s and STATS. .
The neighborhoods to the east and the west of Mercedes-Benz Stadium are also in the midst of dramatic changes. The Westside on the Rise Project is designed to improve quality of life for the citizens of the Vine City and English Avenue neighborhoods adjacent to the stadium. This will be done through programs to improve infrastructure, maintain affordable housing, create jobs through workforce development programs and investments in the neighborhood schools. The east side of the neighborhood is preparing to undergo a multi-billion dollar development project, which will bring office buildings, restaurants, housing and green space to a former industrial area that has been empty for decades.
The Atlanta United fan base is one of the most passionate in the MLS. Atlanta has four primary Supporter Groups… Terminus Legion, Footie Mob, Resurgence and The Faction.. forming the core of this fan base. Each group marches in before each game, with each shouting its own chants and songs, and carrying a tifo created specifically for that game. They do not sit throughout the game, as they continuously participate in coordinated cheers, chants and songs.
The 2018 season saw the addition of two new fan experiences for the United faithful. The first was the opening of the 11-acre green space known as the Home Depot Backyard. This area occupies the space formally occupied by the Georgia Dome and is designed as a pregame tailgating and gathering place. A second addition was a massive art installation devoted to soccer, which overlooks the Backyard. Entitled Telstar, it is a soccer ball made of mirror polished steel that stands 35 feet tall and weighs 40,000 pounds. It has become a very popular spot for soccer fan selfies.
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 has been to an Atlanta United match can attest. Record crowds, phenomenal involvement from the various supporter groups and the close relationship between the team and its fans have set a high bar for other MLS teams to match.
The MARTA Rapid Rail System has two stations located immediately adjacent to the stadium. Once you get to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta United has created 40% more capacity for entry points into the stadium, including several new entrances from the new Home Depot Backyard tailgating area. The security and ticket entry points are outside the stadium, allowing you to enjoy the 61,000 square foot fan plaza after you clear security. This fan plaza is open before, during and after the matches. Once inside the stadium you will find very open concourses with several unique gathering points at every level of the venue to meet up with your friends.
Even though you’ll likely be standing throughout the match, the team has thoughtfully provided you with 21-inch wide seats…. 2 inches wider than in most professional sports stadiums.
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
Ticket prices for Atlanta United are broken down into several price points: 100 level seats are $90, while seats in the 200 level are priced at $60. Standing Room Only goes for $28. The Fans First initiative has brought the concession prices down to a fraction of what is found in most sports venues. The cost of parking/public transportation is still lower than at most of its sister stadiums and the many technological advances found throughout the facility are unique to the league and the sports world in general.
The Mercedes-Benz Stadium is also the home of the Atlanta Falcons. The last two years have been very successful for the team, as it played in the 2017 Super Bowl.
The addition of the Home Depot Backyard and the installation of the Telstar soccer sculpture are worthy of an extra.
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 rain water for later use.
The Fans First Concessions program has been so popular that colleges and professional arenas around the country are implementing similar programs.
Future events scheduled for Mercedes-Benz Stadium include the 2019 Super Bowl, the 2020 Men’s Final Four Basketball Championships and a hosting role at some level in the 2026 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament.
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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.