By David Rosenfield:
Atlanta Falcons fans are excited to see their newly built Mercedes-Benz Stadium, scheduled to open its doors June 1, 2017. Though, while Falcons executives are confident the construction will finish on time and without delays, despite the small chance of construction cutting into the preseason, Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay is contemplating back up options.
“We’re pretty confident in our timetable,” McKay told ESPN. “June 1 is a good date for us. We’re working pretty confidently toward that date, and we feel very good about it. I would say that we have really picked up the pace. You’ve seen the steel going up. You’ve seen the numbers of lifts that we have. We’re in a pretty good place.”
But, it is always smart to have alternate solution.
“You’ve obviously got the University of Georgia,” McKay said. “You’ve got Georgia Tech. But I wouldn’t say that we view this as … it’s not even a consideration of something we’ve looked into. We’re very confident in June 1, so we don’t view it as a problem. But we have alternatives.”
If this scenario were to come to fruition, the most appealing option right now looks to be UGA’s Sanford Stadium, which seats more than 90,000 and is located only 72 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta. Sanford would be the ideal alternative in the event of any major construction delays.
Other options in the area, like Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium and The Georgia-Dome, are not quite as ideal. Bobby Dodd Stadium, though only a mile away from downtown Atlanta, seats a pedestrian 55,000, compared to the Falcons usual 71,250, and is also under repairs. Even more so, The Georgia-Dome is set to be hold its last event in March of 2017 and will begin the early stages of destruction the following summer.
This would not be the first time University of Georgia has held an event outside of college football. In 1996, Athens played host to the Summer Olympics for both the men’s and women’s soccer.