Atlanta Falcons brass have unveiled plans for a greenspace adjacent to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they say will reconnect historic Westside neighborhoods with downtown Atlanta.
Coincidentally or not, the vision for The Home Depot Backyard emerged a couple of days after news broke about the latest construction delays for the Falcons’ new stadium.
In any case, the 13-acre lawn appears to make good on a promise long made by team and city officials that Mercedes-Benz Stadium won’t wall off neighborhoods such Vine City and English Avenue as its predecessor, the Georgia Dome, notoriously did.
Instead, the greenspace will be used for not only game-day (and match-day) parking and tailgating but also “arts and cultural events, entertainment, and community activation beginning in 2018,” officials said in a press release.
The Backyard will be built where the Georgia Dome currently stands.
At a press conference Friday, Falcons owner Arthur Blank said the greenspace’s goal is to create a more connected, accessible downtown.
“Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be one of the finest sports and entertainment venues in the world, and more importantly, a catalyst for transformation in the surrounding neighborhoods of Atlanta’s historic Westside,” said Blank, per the release.
Both residents and visitors will have “everyday access to a beautiful greenspace with play areas and fun activities,” with additional details of upcoming events to be unveiled throughout the next year, officials said.
At Friday’s event, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed “shared the importance of re-opening the Westside to downtown Atlanta and the importance of corporate involvement on the Westside,” per the release.
To conclude the event, officials introduced Latonda Henderson, who will serve as director of community activation for Mercedes-Benz Stadium. In that role, she’ll work with The Home Depot Foundation and other nonprofits “to create compelling community-oriented programming for The Home Depot Backyard—for both the Westside and all of Atlanta.”
Sounds like a proactive step in the right direction.