The roof at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will remain shut deep into the Atlanta Falcons football season this fall, as engineers work to “mechanize” its opening and closing, Steve Cannon said today. Cannon, who is CEO of AMB Group, the parent company of the Falcons, made the announcement at a board meeting of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority.
The roof already can open and close—in fact it was being closed today, albeit slowly—but engineers are still working on automating the process, so it can happen essentially at the push of the button and within 11 minutes. Currently, when the eight petals converge or retract, the process is conducted over a period of hours, as engineers calibrate the speed, take measurements, and ensure the seals are correct.
Cannon explained that the automation process would normally take 40 days to complete, but that timeline assumes an empty stadium. Given the other work still being done on the stadium—and on the roof—the 40-day clock can’t start for several more weeks. And the amount of events scheduled to take place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which opens August 26 with a Falcons pre-season game against the Arizona Cardinals, will extend that timeline further. Cannon said 16 events, attracting a total of 950,000 people, are scheduled to take place in the stadium within 40 days of its August 26 opening.
“The event calendar is pretty tight,” Cannon said after the board meeting. “We’re going to be doing the mechanization in the background [of these events].”
Cannon said he is “confident” the roof will be operable for at least part of the Falcons season, as well as the Atlanta United season, whose final regular season home game is currently scheduled for October 22.
Afterward, Atlanta Falcons CEO and President Rich McKay said he expected the roof will be operable for “more than one” Falcons game.
Stadium officials will not keep the roof open for any event until it’s automated, given that weather conditions can change quickly. “We can’t risk having it open and then having adverse weather conditions,” McKay said.