Tour the Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Tour the Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Looking for a good idea for a staycation? Why not enjoy a guided tour of the home of the Atlanta Falcons?

Chana Shapiro is an educator, writer, editor and illustrator whose work has appeared in journals, newspapers and magazines. She is a regular contributor to the AJT.

A tour group from Ahavath Achim Synagogue is pictured on the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
A tour group from Ahavath Achim Synagogue is pictured on the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened in August 2017 as a replacement for the Georgia Dome. It is the home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United of Major League Soccer; however, a guided tour of the phenomenal $1.5 billion stadium leads visitors to experience, learn and appreciate that the building is a technological masterpiece.

It is the brainchild of Atlanta philanthropist and visionary Arthur Blank and the combined talents of skilled workers, designers, and engineers. Millions of fans have visited the stadium to enjoy games and blockbuster events; yet a guided tour showcases the rest of Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s unique features.

Guided tours take visitors into the Falcons’ and Atlanta United’s locker rooms, and bring them onto the playing field (the stadium has fewer, but larger, seats than the Georgia Dome had; the stadium holds 71,000 seats and can add more, up to 80,000 seats, if necessary). Visitors marvel at the Window to the City and lofty Skybridges, which offer panoramic interior stadium and exterior city views, and which provide natural sunlight, thus decreasing reliance on artificial light. Tourists will enjoy large concourses and plentiful amenities, adding to the welcoming ambience of the stadium.

An overhead view of the facility

Another striking feature of MBS is its 190-piece art collection, displayed throughout the public areas and in the private suites. MBS coordinated with SCAD to put together the collection, which includes unusual pieces, sports-related art, and a large mural, “Life is Beautiful,” displaying a history of Atlanta and its outstanding leaders. The giant metal falcon sculpture at the MBS entrance is the largest bird sculpture in the United States.

The art collection underscores Arthur Blank’s desire to make MBS more than a great sports venue; it is a powerful environmental model, an example of sustaining and enhancing our downtown community, and a cultural experience.

An important structure within the city, the stadium is a physical and societal enhancement of downtown. Construction began in 2014 and MBS officially opened in 2017; it was awarded LEED Platinum status (LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the world’s most widely used measure of green architecture and design. Platinum is the highest rating).

The partially-open roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium

In only five years, the stadium achieved TRUE (Total Resource Use Efficiency) certification, for its zero-waste policy. It is already the busiest stadium in North America, with three million visitors annually who attend games and special events; and to fulfill its ecological commitment, in order to deal definitively with all the waste resulting from such heavy use, workers in an on-site 6,000-square-foot resource recovery room gather and sort stadium garbage. Bins are located liberally throughout the stadium which promote separation of plastic bottles and cans from other waste, and all stadium vendors are required to use only compostable disposable ware; however, in the resource recovery room, trash is carefully checked to ensure proper separation and end-use.

Behind the scenes at MBS is a world of high tech. The retractable oculus roof is composed of eight panels which each weigh 500 tons (yes, 500 tons, each!) Amazingly, the process of opening or closing the panels takes only eight minutes.

Another tech phenomenon is the composition of Skybridge windows, which are made of thick, weather-resistant ETFE plastic. These windows are able to withstand the most extreme weather.

The urban garden is a popular teaching tool for local schools and community groups.

There is also a water retention system, which collects rainwater and uses it for MBS’s sustainable urban vegetable garden (a hands-on teaching venue popular with local schools and community groups. The plants are pollinated by bees from three garden beehives.) Mercedes-Benz Stadium has magnanimously created a zero-waste plan other venues around the world can follow and offers to consult with them in order to achieve their environmental goals.

Guided tours, which average 90 minutes, are $28 for adults and $20 for seniors and children ages 3-12. Tours are offered Monday to Friday at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m., except when the stadium is reserved for special events. Tickets may be purchased online or at the door. Specialized tours, including art tours, tech tours, architecture tours, sustainability tours, and group tours, may be arranged.

Tours meet at the stadium entrance at 1414 Andrew Young International Blvd. Park on the Silver level; tour parking tickets will be validated. For information, call 407-341-5000.

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