ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons officially kicked off their tenure in the Mercedes-Benzs Stadium Saturday night.
While the outcome may not have been the one fans wanted, most can't seem to get enough of the Falcons’ new home.
Officials said they expect a million people to walk through the doors of Mercedes-Benz Stadium over the next two months.
The $1.5 billion stadium opened its doors around 4 p.m. for the first Falcons preseason game at the team's new home. The team played the Arizona Cardinals, losing 24-14.
Even before thousands of fans cheered on the home team they raved about the new stadium.
“The view, the screen, the seats are bigger, it’s better than the Georgia Dome,” one fan told Johnson.
Some fans said Mercedes-Benz is just what they needed to help recover from a Super Bowl loss.
“It brings excitement. We needed something new with the Falcons after the Super Bowl,” another fan said.
With hot dogs and bottomless drinks for $2, it made for long lines and a crowded concourse at the concession stands.
“Maybe it's going to be hard to move around this place,” Timothy Ruplin said.
But then he saw how much he fed his family for and realized the wait was worth it.
“I think we all ate for under 30 bucks,” Ruplin said.
Attendance didn't hit the 75,000 seat capacity for the preseason game.
Next week's Alabama/Florida State game though could be an indicator of what the stadium will be like during a regular season game.
The game kicked off with no grand-opening pomp and pageantry, no speeches by dignitaries.
Those festivities are planned for Sept. 17, when the Falcons play their regular-season home opener against the Green Bay Packers, and Sept. 16, when Atlanta United seeks to fill the building for a game against Orlando City.
"Its a very beautiful stadium. It's ready for the Falcons. We are going to take it this year, we're gonna go all the way," Falcons fan Vickie Ellison said.
The state-of-the-art retractable roof is not yet ready to open and close during a game.
It will remain closed for tonight’s game, and will stay that way during events in the stadium until mechanization work is completed. Stadium officials have said they expect to be able to open the roof for a Falcons game at some point this season, but they don’t know when.
Roof work is scheduled to resume Sunday, when the plan is to open it to continue adjusting the mechanization.
Then the roof is scheduled to be returned to the closed position days before Thursday’s Falcons-Jaguars exhibition game, the stadium’s second event.
Sunday’s planned move will mark the fifth time the roof has been moved. with stadium officials calling it “Construction Move 5.” Rather than 12 minutes -- the time it is ultimately supposed to take to open or close the roof -- these moves have required hours or even days, nowhere near fast enough for decisions based on game-day weather.
Cox Media Group