ATLANTA -- The wait was finally over as Matt Ryan had a chance to visit the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the first time this week.
But before he even set foot inside, the Falcons quarterback had one of those stop-and-pause moments as he approached the stadium early Tuesday morning. Driving alone down Northside Drive, Ryan was passing the Georgia Dome and then caught a glimpse of the giant three-point Mercedes-Benz star on the new stadium.
"I said 'wow' (out loud)," Ryan said of the Falcons' new home set to open Aug. 26. "And it's massive, you know?"
Ryan was asked if he could sum up his reaction in a word. His response?
Again, that was still before Ryan walked inside the building for the first time.
"When you walk out into the stadium onto the field for the first time and just see the scope of the stadium – see how big it is and how beautiful everything is – it's pretty cool to see," Ryan said.
The actual playing surface is in the process of being installed as scheduled, but that didn't stop Ryan from venturing out onto the field – or from throwing a few passes. And while he was down there, the quarterback liked what he saw.
"I think depth perception is always an interesting thing from a quarterback's perspective – some fields just feel good to throw on," Ryan said. "And just the way it sets up, especially being tight behind the end lines, I always feel like that gives you good perspective to throw. I think the end zones, with the suites they have set up on the end zone, are a really cool end to the field."
And about that video board. You know, the never-done-before Halo display – a 1,075-feet long by 58-feet tall 360-degree wraparound scoreboard inside the stadium that's the largest in U.S. sports. Yep, that one.
Ryan feedback? "sick view."
"Yeah, the Halo board – it's pretty cool to see that," he said. "There's so much screen (up) there. For the fans, it's got to be as cool as anything to sit in any seat of the stadium and to have just a sick view of the screen."
But from a player's perspective, Ryan said the massive Halo board won't be a distraction during the game.
"Not when you're out there (on the field)," Ryan said. "You won't even notice it."
Ryan's tour didn't stop there. After taking in the field, checking out all of the sight lines and setting the play clocks, he headed inside to the Falcons' newly designed lockers and locker room.
"This is insane," Ryan said as he stood in the locker room entrance.
He was not only fired up about the Falcons' new digs, but thinks they'll have a genuine home-field advantage.
"I think the scope, how everything fits in and how it feels is really, really good," he said. "I think the acoustics will make it such that it's a real advantage for us to play here."
The Falcons first preseason game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium is Saturday, Aug. 26, against the Arizona Cardinals. The first regular-season game is a Sunday night tilt against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 17.
"I can't wait, you know, for preseason, for September to roll around so we can get into this building and play the first Sunday night game," Ryan said. "It's our responsibility as a team to get this place going and give the fans something to cheer about."
Before leaving, Ryan tried to express what the new stadium means not only to the organization, but for him personally.
"I feel like to a certain extent having been with the organization as long as I have for nine years and coming to this in my 10th season, I really think it's amazing to see where this organization has gone in the last decade," Ryan said. "And I'm really, really proud to be a part of it and to have helped in some small way in kind of making this stadium possible."