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Photos: Explore Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s backyard park as construction nears finish

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Media tour provides glimpses and details of a project leaders say will be uniquely inclusive and versatile

The Home Depot Backyard’s central lawn today.
The Home Depot Backyard’s central lawn today.
Photos: Josh Green, Curbed Atlanta

Downtown’s hybrid community park and tailgating lot, expected to open within two months in the shadow of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, couldn’t be more literally rising from the ashes of the Georgia Dome.

How so?

Beneath a specialized Bermuda grass developed by the University of Georgia—designed to buck the ravages of heat, drought, and cold—lies six inches of sand and 19 inches of gravel, similar to a golf course substrate, and beneath that is several feet of the crushed old Dome, reduced from an Atlanta icon to an irrigation accelerant.

“There’s a pretty robust drainage and irrigation system that allows us to, even in a heavy rain, activate and not worry about rutting, pooling, ponding,” explained Matt Dale, vice president for project managers Darden and Company, during a media tour of the site this morning. “Obviously, we have a lot of events all year, and we don’t want weather to ever inhibit that.”

Beyond compelling factoids, the tour shed light on the forthcoming Home Depot Backyard’s functionality—and what project leaders call exceptional versatility and programming inclusiveness.

On days without games and matches, the green space will be open to Atlantans like any public park. On typical event days, the space can host 525 vehicles (season-ticket holders get preference) with prices for Falcons games ranging from $80 per vehicle to $350 for hospitality tents.

Totaling 11 acres, the project is scheduled to be finished in time for pigskin brouhaha in early September. Here’s what to expect:

The central lawn, beyond the pervious roadway, has no light poles or obstructions in order to maximize versatility. Its two and a half acres allows for a regulation soccer field, several youth-sized soccer fields, community movie nights, concerts, farmers markets, and other uses. East and west lawns span about one and a half acres each.
Light poles around the project are shaped like abstract trees. “We wanted to do something that felt more natural and parklike,” Dale explained.
Where the City of Atlanta’s serpentine bridge over Northside Drive curls down into the park.
The entrance to two permanent bathrooms, each with five-person capacity. Temporary johns will be trucked in and positioned around the area on game days.
Standing 35 feet tall, this soccer ball structure by London-based Studio Roso will include a combination of matte and mirrored finishes (think: Chicago’s The Bean) up-lit by a few dozen lights that change colors in conjunction with facets of the stadium.
At right (and below) is the footprint for a roughly 1,000-room hotel project led by the Georgia World Congress Center, expected to launch soon. This area will be screened from the lawn to protect patrons as the hotel is constructed in coming years, said Dale. An overlook plaza, at left, will include a Georgia Dome memorial marker.
Workers construct a four-lane, private road called Magnolia Drive that will dissect the property. At left is a 12-foot-wide pedestrian bridge, connecting to a 50-foot-wide hardscape pathway, which will link with existing and future PATH trails in the area.
The westward view, over Vine City.
Latonda Henderson, director of community activation with Mercedes-Benz Stadium, leads a presentation about the park component. The mission “is to create a more connected, accessible downtown” for year-round programming on the 300 days without games and matches. “This is an inclusive space that everyone can take advantage of,” Henderson said.
Programming will include “things like theater in the park, arts in the park, really representing all cultures,” said Henderson. “You’ll see everything from youth sports leagues to adults coming out for fitness programming ... You’ll have cooking demonstrations, a nutritionist out here.”

Explore the mocked-up finished project, in various configurations, via these renderings:

How the Backyard might look during a farmers market.
Renderings courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Communal movie night.
The central field arranged for youth soccer.
For Falcons tailgating, with a closer view of the playground area. The exact positioning and number of slides (for fans and kids) leading from street level to the play area is a work in progress, officials said. But big slides are coming.