The first open-air professional football game in Atlanta since 1991 will happen on a national stage Sunday night—if Mother Nature cooperates.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium officials announced Sunday that the complex system of massive rooftop petals will be in the open position months earlier than expected, weather permitting, for the Sunday Night Football collision of the Falcons and Packers.
It’ll be the Falcons’ first game under the open Georgia sky since their last hurrah at Fulton County Stadium on Dec. 15, 1991.
Fittingly, the team’s final game at the Georgia Dome in January was a 44-21 dismantling of Green Bay that propelled the Dirty Birds to the Super Bowl, where glory awaited them. For two quarters.
The new roost’s roof was the source of various delays throughout this year, and it doesn’t sound like all the kinks have been worked out yet.
“Work to fully automate the roof will continue throughout the fall, but has progressed well allowing it to be open for next Sunday’s game,” stadium officials said in a press release.
This stadium of various nicknames—The Benz, MBS, the New Dome, or simply The Dome—will be a stage for some of the world’s biggest sporting events in three consecutive years: the College Football Playoff Championship game (2018), the Super Bowl (2019), and the NCAA Men’s Final Four (2020).
The arena took a beating on social media following the Georgia Tech-Tennessee matchup on opening collegiate weekend, but officials told Curbed Atlanta last week that complications exiting the stadium and with long bathroom lines were an anomaly and should improve as guests familiarize themselves with the venue.
Meanwhile, next door, the Georgia Dome is scheduled for a Nov. 20 implosion. It’ll be replaced in roughly a year by a large tailgating lawn that will double as public greenspace.