(NEW YORK) — Mercedes-Benz Stadium is set to open August 26 for an NFL preseason match-up between the Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons. The brand new facility will house the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United FC of the MLS, and a number of concerts and special events.
Located in downtown Atlanta, the stadium seats up to 83,000 people, and it gives the Falcons and United FC a new opportunity: the choice to play outdoors, thanks to the stadium’s eight panel retractable roof.
While Mercedes-Benz Stadium offers fans the chance to attend events indoors or outside, the stadium’s biggest draw might be its new food and beverage options and revamped digital experience.
ABC News recently spoke with Mike Gomes and Jared Miller of AMB Sports and Entertainment, a subsidiary of AMB Group, LLC and the parent company of the Falcons and Atlanta United, about some of fan-friendly aspects of the stadium:
Affordable food and beverages
Gomes, the group’s Senior Vice President of Fan Experience, says it was his team’s aim to provide “fan-first pricing” during every event at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:
“We took a look at reinventing, re-imagining the food and beverage experience in a stadium. We started with pricing. Let’s not hammer fans unfairly in their pocket book. And if you know a bottle of water typically costs two bucks when you go to a convenience store, then why don’t we sell it for two bucks? Why don’t we sell hot dogs for two dollars? If we sell a really good steak sandwich that you might buy at a restaurant for eight bucks, let’s sell it at eight bucks in the stadium.”
Some ways Mercedes-Benz Stadium will improve the food and beverage experience include offering unlimited refills for all non-alcoholic beverages and keeping prices the same at every event, including the 2019 Super Bowl.
Gomes adds that his group reached out to fans and asked them what the best restaurants in Atlanta were, and brought those eateries to the stadium to “have some fun and create some dishes that you can’t find at your local restaurants.”
Wide-ranging Wi-Fi access
Jared Miller, the Chief Digital Officer of AMB Sports and Entertainment, told ABC News Mercedes-Benz Stadium will offer 1,800 wireless access points so that fans can stay connected anywhere in the stadium.
Miller calls Wi-Fi a “must have” nowadays. Fans want to check their fantasy teams, post a photo or video from the game on social media, or place a call without it breaking up.
However, the focus is still on the on-field product, according to Miller. He feels the wide-ranging Wi-Fi access is just a tool fans can use “to build upon what the fan is already there to enjoy… It is there to build upon the experience, not replace the experience.”
Gomes told ABC News about AMC Sports and Entertainment’s ambitious plan for improving entry at Mercedes-Benz Stadium: get fans into the building in five minutes or less. His group partnered with the WAZE driving app in an attempt to dissuade people from using GPS systems that cannot always notify drivers of unforeseen traffic.
Fans will also be able to purchase parking in advance through Parkmobile so that they can get from car-to-seat in a shorter period of time.
Set right next to the Georgia Dome, Mercedes-Benz Stadium is located in downtown Atlanta, giving fans a variety of options for getting to the game. They can also take MARTA public transport to the game. For those coming from out of town, Gomes says the stadium is located within walking distance of 10,000 hotel rooms.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium is set to host a number of major sporting events in the coming years, including the College Football Playoff in 2018, Super Bowl in 2019, and NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2020. One of the most anticipated college football season openers ever will also be played at the Atlanta stadium this September: Florida State vs. Alabama.
The facility has also sold out its first concert: a Garth Brooks show set for October 12.
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