Copyright 2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Mercedes-Benz Stadium was constructed with at least three advantages for possibly hosting a World Cup.
Coincidentally during a tour of the $1.5 billion stadium Tuesday, the Joint Bid Committee, representing the U.S., Mexico and Canada in its effort to land the 2026 World Cup, released the list of cities that could be host sites. Atlanta, with Mercedes-Benz Stadium, was included.
In addition to the retractable roof, the halo board and the 4,000 miles of optical fiber that will enhance the experience for the fans, two soccer-specific design features were included.
The stadium includes seats in the corners for football that can be rolled back for soccer. That will allow the field to surpass the minimum width of 70 yards required by FIFA. The field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be 75 yards wide and 110 yards long.
"It's something that costs money, but the right thing for us to do for the ability to host soccer games," Atlanta United President Darren Eales said Tuesday.
Second, Eales said FIFA requires World Cup stadiums have a "kick room," an area within the stadium in which players can get loose before taking the field. Mercedes-Benz has one of those rooms, complete with artificial turf, adjacent to Atlanta United's locker room. There is also space for a kick room near the visiting locker room.
"We have a jump-start on a lot of stadiums that don't have those things built in," Eales said.
Last, FIFA prefers World Cup stadiums seat at least 60,000 for a Cup final. Mercedes-Benz Stadium can reach 71,000.
Seeking attendance record: Atlanta United will aim for the MLS single-game attendance record when it hosts Orlando City on Sept. 16 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The league record of 69,255 was established April 13, 1996,when the Los Angeles Galaxy and the New York/ New Jersey MetroStarsplayed at the Rose Bowl.
"Would love to be able to set that record," Eales said.
In its first season in MLS and playing exclusively at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta United leads MLS in average attendance (46,318). Its total attendance of 416,864 in nine games ranks second behind Seattle's 470,793, set in 11 games.
The new stadium will typically be configured to host 42,000, but it will expand the seating to 70,000 for at least two games. The other will be the regular-season finale against Toronto on Oct. 22.
First look: Atlanta United will practice for the first time in its new home Saturday.
The team's first game in the $1.5 billion stadium is Sept. 10 against Dallas.
To try to make the transition from its home of Bobby Dodd Stadium, which features a grass field, to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which features artificial turf, manager Gerardo Martino said Atlanta United will train at least once a week on the turf fields at its training complex in Marietta.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium will feature FieldTurf Revolution 360. It is the same type of synthetic surface used at Providence Park in Portland and CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
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