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30 June 2017

Design of Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium Elevates the Major League Soccer Fan Experience

FourFourTwo looks at how HOK’s design of Mercedes-Benz Stadium creates a flexible, multipurpose venue to accommodate the unique needs of the building’s anchor tenants: MLS’s Atlanta United FC and the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

“Currently under construction next door to the Georgia Dome, the brand-new retractable-roof venue was certainly designed for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. But it was also designed for United and a slew of other events, everything from Super Bowls and NCAA Final Fours to big-time college football and international soccer. And unlike other football venues turned MLS homes, this venue was designed with soccer in mind from the start.”

“’From the start we set out to build a multi-functional building customized for each event. It is nice to have that right from the beginning and to be very intentional to create the right environment,’ Scott Jenkins, Mercedes-Benz Stadium general manager, tells FourFourTwo.”

‘Designed to hold 71,000 for football and expandable to 75,000 for special events, Mercedes-Benz Stadium expects to dip to 40,000 for Atlanta United. Demand could dictate otherwise: Atlanta currently leads MLS with an average of over 46,000 fans per game at its temporary home, Bobby Dodd Stadium.’

“‘It shrinks quite a bit and feels more intimate,’ Jenkins says. ‘And it still has a great view of the window to the city, the scoreboard and the eight-petal retractable roof. It is a cool environment and customized and scaled down for soccer.’

“The red-and-black curtain system can also occur in parts, either fully deploying or partially deploying if the team wants to open specific sections of the upper deck as fan demand dictates. All four corners at the field level will retract to ensure the full length and width of a FIFA-regulation surface, including full sideline space for the teams.”

“Atlanta United fans and players will have another perk not often seen in large football venues: a traditional soccer walkout. United has its own dedicated locker room built specifically for the team. Since the venue was designed to host everything from high school football championships to bowl games, locker rooms ring the building. The NFL visiting locker room sits on the north side, near the United space, and can cut in half to make for a perfect visiting MLS locker room. With permanent rubber flooring laid, the path from the two locker spaces to the field lead through a club space and right to the benches.”