There’s only one more chance this year to experience an open-air event in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Atlanta United’s match versus Toronto FC on Oct. 22 will, weather permitting, be the last open roof event of the season. This will also be the first open roof home game for the team.
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Stadium officials announced the roof will be closed for all other events this season as they continue to work to speed up the retractable process.
The eight panels on the stadium’s roof, each weighing about 500 tons, are supposed to open or close in sync in only 12 minutes. Opening the roof has instead taken hours with each panel being moved individually.
The stadium’s one-of-a-kind roof was expected to be fully functional by late August.
Benjamin Flowers, a professor of architecture at Georgia Tech, said problems with the roof could be the start of a new routine.
“This roof will probably be in a state of constant maintenance,” he said. “So I think thinking of it not as a construction project that has an end date but rather something that’s going to be constantly under management is probably more accurate.”
Some of the events the stadium is scheduled to host include remaining Falcons home games, the South Eastern Conference championship and the College Football National Championship game.
Bruce Seaman, an economics professor at Georgia State and consultant with the Atlanta Sports Council, said the roof problem shouldn’t lessen the stadium’s attractiveness for major events.
“Is it something that’s aggravating to both the Falcons and the Atlanta United franchises? Certainly it is,” he said. “It’s also aggravating to any other sponsors that would be coming to the stadium. But I just can’t see, however, that it’s the kind of situation that would be a deal breaker.”
Seaman said the new stadium and Atlanta still bring a lot to the table when trying to attract major events. The city was awarded the 2019 Super Bowl and is one of 32 cities in the country on the World Cup finalist list.
The stadium’s roof has only been open for the Falcons first regular season home game on Sept.17 against Green Bay.