The NFL's Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United of Major League Soccer announced Monday that both teams will play any scheduled September games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium without fans in attendance given current conditions related to the global pandemic. Team and stadium officials will continue to collaborate with national and local health officials in the coming weeks before deciding on fan attendance at events scheduled later in the fall.
"The health and safety of our fans is our top priority," said Steve Cannon, CEO, AMB Sports and Entertainment. "As much as we want to bring our Falcons and Atlanta United fans together at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, their safety and wellbeing, and that of our associates, the competitors, officials and game staff, and our community as a whole will always come first. After thoughtful consideration and collaboration, it became clear to us that adhering to the guidance by national and local health officials was the right decision."
This decision will affect two Falcons home games including the home opener against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 13 and the Sept. 27 game against the Chicago Bears. Atlanta United previously announced that the team would be playing with no fans in attendance for the first phase of MLS continuation of play in local markets, including the club's three home matches, Aug. 22 against Nashville SC, Aug. 29 against Orlando City SC and Sept. 2 against Inter Miami CF. The schedule for the second phase of competition has not yet been released and may include additional September home matches, which would be played without fans.
Since the start of the pandemic, AMB Sports and Entertainment (AMBSE) leadership has taken important precautions to protect the health and safety of its associates. Over the past several months, Stadium and team leaders have collaborated with health professionals as well as other organizations across the country to implement additional protocols to permit us to safely welcome fans back into the building. However, due to the most recent guidance from public health and government officials, AMBSE leadership determined the potential risks of having large numbers of fans together are simply too significant.
Since opening, Mercedes-Benz Stadium has been recognized as the premiere sports and entertainment venue rating No. 1 in both food and beverage and safety and security in the NFL for three consecutive years.