It’s never easy competing against a plush sofa and flat-screen TV. As far as football-watching environments go, it’s tough to beat the convenience of taking in FOX NFL Sundays from your living room, especially during the COVID era — a stark reality of which the Atlanta Falcons and other NFL franchises are quite aware.
So, even though their eight (or nine) home games are played in the spectacular and still relatively new Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS), the Falcons are no different from the other 31 NFL teams in their quest to get fans off their couches and into stadium seats. Enhancing the fan experience is a never-ending pursuit for the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, the fruits of whose labor were on display for those on hand to watch the team’s in-stadium open practice on the evening of Aug. 15.
Since the team has only one pre-season home game (on Aug. 27 against the Jacksonville Jaguars) and trains in Flowery Branch, the in-stadium practice a couple weeks back was a nice opportunity for fans to catch a glimpse of the ’22 Falcons, a young squad that has undergone significant turnover and isn’t stacked with household names. (While Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are long gone, the team boasts electrifying young playmakers in Kyle Pitts and Drake London, as well as in a pair of defensive backs with strong Georgia roots: Dee Alford and Casey Hayward.)
But before fans even settled into their seats at MBS to watch rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder take snaps alongside veteran signal-caller Marcus Mariota, they saw firsthand how internal improvements will make for improved spectatorship this fall.
When entering the stadium, for example, there is no need to empty one’s pockets or policy-compliant bags of iPhones, keys, sunglasses or spare change — or even to wait in line for others to do so. Security personnel equipped with the artificial intelligence (AI)-based system Evolv Express can thoroughly examine fans’ possessions without the cumbersome ritual. Most importantly, their safety and security are not compromised with the expedited process.
There’s a strong emphasis on frictionless exchanges throughout the stadium, which is one of the busiest in America, with a slate of Falcons games, Atlanta United FC matches, concert lineups and special events, including the SEC Football Championship Game and Peach Bowl (one of this year’s College Football Playoff semifinal games).
The Aug. 15 practice was one of several testing days during which a select group of fans was able to utilize cutting-edge technology to enjoy “frictionless entry” into the stadium by having a biometric fingerprint of their face double as their ticket for admission. It’s an impressive feature — no scanning of tickets or taps of the iPhone — and, along with the novel food and beverage markets driven by contactless monetary transactions, serves as a testament to the organization’s commitment to innovation.
For hard-working fans grappling with skyrocketing inflation, the exceptionally reasonable prices for food and drink items throughout the stadium will be of particular interest. Whether you’re craving a hotdog ($2), pretzel ($2) or fries ($3), the prices resemble those of concession stands at high school football games or NFL stadiums in the 1980s.
The Falcons and MBS are also making efforts to prioritize environmental sustainability. The home of the Falcons and United takes great pride in being a zero-waste facility and currently the only LEED Platinum-certified stadium in North America.
It is aiming for carbon neutrality status in the near future, and of the 4,000 employees working Falcons’ home games, a designated group presides over efforts to ensure waste undergoes a thorough composting process. In short, those who patronize the building can rest assured that they are part of an environmentally responsible operation.
Other exciting features will include the new on-field terrace seating at the 20-yard line and recently constructed team store adjacent to Gate 1, which will crank out up to 50 personalized Falcons jerseys each game. There will be a season-long focus on paying homage to military veterans (CEO Steve Cannon is a West Point graduate who served as First Lieutenant in West Germany during the fall of the Iron Curtain) as well as to the dozens of local trailblazing schools that champion girl’s flag football.
The Falcons have good reason to embrace innovation at this hour: MBS, in the midst of celebrating its fifth anniversary, was just awarded the 2025 College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship, the crown jewel event of the college football season.
- David Ostrowsky
- FOX NFL Sundays
- Atlanta falcons
- Mercedes-Benz Stadium
- Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Flowery Branch
- Matt Ryan
- Julio Jones
- Kyle Pitts
- Drake London
- Dee Alford
- Casey Hayward
- Desmond Ridder
- Marcus Mariota
- Evolv Express
- Atlanta United FC
- SEC Football Championship Game
- Peach Bowl
- Steve Cannon
- AMB Sports + Entertainment