Following back-to-back sellouts of Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the opening weekend of college football season, Twitter was alight with fans raving about the new facility.
But not all the raving was positive.
Visitors took to social media to express annoyance and even concern about how long it took to exit the stadium following the double-overtime Tennessee victory over hometown Georgia Tech. Multiple accounts told of half-hour-plus slogs, with some fans taking matters into their own hands by jumping over walls.
In response to the concerns, a spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz Stadium acknowledged they are aware of the issues and were “closely watching” how patrons enter and exit the stadium at each event in order to improve operations moving forward.
The statement to Curbed Atlanta reads, in part:
With four very different events in the building so far, we’ve learned a lot about fan traffic patterns and identifying underutilized areas of the building—including stairways, paths, and gate entrances, and exits. In an effort to continue to educate fans on the building, we are increasing wayfinding signage and fan communications both ahead of and during events to ensure fans and guests have the best experience possible. That said, similar to rush hour traffic on the roadways, there will always be some level of congestion when games let out or concerts end. We’re confident this will ease with fan familiarity with the building and the adjustments we’re making.
The spokesperson elaborated that one-off events such as college football games and concerts result in “event anomalies that aren’t typical during Falcons games.”
While Falcons fans will grow familiar with the stadium, and many will exit to the west to access parking lots along Northside Drive, the majority of visitors over the weekend were from out of town and exited to the east via the main plaza—the way they entered, and the direction of downtown hotels.
So a more even purging of fans from all sides of the stadium is expected moving forward, officials believe.
Beyond the exiting issues, another concern raised by fans was the wait for bathrooms during games. Again, Mercedes-Benz leadership cited unfamiliarity with the building as a key contributor to the issue.
In fact, there are nearly 25 percent more toilets for men and 30 percent more for women than at the Georgia Dome, which had a comparable amount of seats. With increased signage and user knowledge of the venue, bathroom waits should subside, officials said.
As the Falcons and Atlanta United seasons crank up, the stadium will be put to the test.