The new Atlanta stadium project is coming together at a feverish pace, and Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay, along with the new stadium management team, provided a status update at an Atlanta Press Club luncheon Wednesday.
Along with McKay, the panel included Vice President of Fan Engagement Mike Gomes, new stadium General Manager Scott Jenkins, Chief Technology Officer Jared Miller, and Project Coordinator Shara Mitchell. The discussion centered around the philosophies behind the design and amenities in the stadium and the desire to create a one-of-a-kind experience for fans.
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The three-year project broke ground earlier this year and the underground work is about 90 percent complete. Concrete columns and elevator slabs are beginning to rise out of the ground at the site in the shadow of the Georgia Dome, and a flurry of activity in the coming months will begin to give the stadium further shape as the skeleton takes form in early 2015.
“The exterior of the stadium, we looked at as truly iconic, one-of-a-kind, something that could be truly transformational for downtown Atlanta — and I think you will see that the design achieves that,” McKay told those gathered at the Press Club event. “We put amenities on every level of the building because there are fans on every level of the building. It seems to us that there are too many of these buildings being designed with the premium in mind and not enough with the fan in mind, so we tried to make sure that there are amenities on every level.”
Perhaps the venue’s most talked-about feature, adding to its draw as a destination venue for both big events and visitors to Atlanta, is the 360-degree video halo board. Mitchell said the main roof still that will support the halo board is set to be installed at the site in the spring, and McKay provided some insight into just how much of an awe-inspiring venture the first-of-its-kind video board will be.
Using AT&T Stadium’s massive video board as an example, McKay said that board provides 32,000 square feet of LED lighting. The halo board in the new Atlanta stadium will be 64,000 square feet of LED and 60 feet tall, the equivalent of a five-story building.
The technological advancements won’t stop there. Miller has been working to not only support current technology, but to anticipate how technology might change in the next three years before the stadium opens its doors to fans.
His charge has been to make sure the new Atlanta stadium is the most technologically advanced venue anywhere not only in 2017, but in the decades to follow.
Gomes, responsible for how fans will ultimately experience the venue, gave a very good reason why having a sound technological infrastructure in place will be key to making the new Atlanta stadium unique.
“We need to accommodate a stadium experience that’s flexible, that can adjust and can adapt to not just the event type, but the fan type,” Gomes said, adding that the stadium will need to be built with not just football and soccer, but concerts and other events, in mind. “Fans expect and consumers expect that they don’t have to conform — they expect the experience to conform to what they want and what they need. That’s a heck of a challenge when you’re servicing 70,000 folks at any time.”
The main hallmarks of the stadium discussed Wednesday, aside from the iconic design, included technology, a customized fan experience, sustainability and the ability to host the biggest events the world has to offer.
Last weekend, the NCAA announced that the 2020 Final Four will be held at the new Atlanta stadium, and there are hopes, the panel said Wednesday, that hosting a Super Bowl will be a possibility soon.
“I think the legacy will be that we will be the place that hosts every major event there is, and we won’t do it once, and we won’t do it twice — we’ll do it a lot,” McKay said. “I think that’s because we’ve created something in downtown that’s really special, that no one else has.”