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Behind the scenes at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

April 19, 2019  - By
Overview of Mercedes Benz Stadium. (Photo: AT Staff)

Overview of Mercedes Benz Stadium. (Photo: AT Staff)

Football games, soccer matches, concerts and more — the turf at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta has to be ready to stand up to it all.

“We have to make sure the turf is not too hard, not too soft and that the blades stand up,” says Scott Jenkins, the stadium’s general manager.

Athletic Turf got a sneak peek of the stadium on a tour during the 2019 Home Depot Spring Backyard event.

Jenkins says it’s a challenge to meet the expectations and safety regulations for the National Football League (NFL) and Major League Soccer as the stadium, which opened in August 2017, serves as the home turf for the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC.

Jenkins adds that the turf is, in fact, artificial.

“Because the walls of the building are so tall, and we get a lot of shade in here (with the eight-panel retractable roof), we knew artificial turf was the way to go,” he says.

Scott Jenkins at Mercedes Benz Stadium (Photo: AT Staff)

Scott Jenkins, general manger of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, discusses the ins and outs of the massive indoor stadium. (Photo: AT Staff)

The turf is watered before each soccer game to create a slicker surface so the ball can move faster. The adjustable stands are pushed back to accommodate a larger field for soccer games. For a typical soccer game, Jenkins says the stands hold about 40,000 attendees. The capacity for football games is about 71,000 people.

For events such as concerts where a stage is required, a tarp is placed over the field so that the damage from cranes and trucks is minimal. The stadium can seat up to 80,000 for such events. Jenkins says the concerts typically take about five days to set up and one to two days to tear down. Afterwards, the turf is combed through with magnets to pick up leftover metal debris such as nuts and screws.

For each sporting event, the field is painted; the letters aren’t sewn in as in other arenas. Painting takes about eight to 10 hours to complete.

“The stadium has the ability to host a soccer game on a Saturday night and turn around on a Sunday afternoon to host a football game,” said Jason Kirksey, manager of media operations.

Retractable roof at Mercedes Benz Stadium (Photo: AT Staff)

The retractable roof at Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens up to a blue Atlanta sky. (Photo: AT Staff)

Jenkins added, “On any given day, you’ll see someone out there painting, brushing out the field, doing something with the turf.”

The stadium’s original turf, FieldTurf’s “Revolution 360” system, was recently replaced with a newer FieldTurf system called “Core,” a multilayer dual-polymer fiber turf.

Due to the wear and tear from a wide variety (and high frequency) of events, the turf will be replaced about every two years. Replacement costs between $600,000 and $700,000.

The stadium also is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design -certified, a green building certification program. Environmentally friendly components of the complex include the use of water-efficient landscapes, the ability to store 2,000,000 gallons of stormwater on-site and 4,000 solar PV panels that have the ability to power up to 10 Atlanta Falcons games or 13 Atlanta United matches and 82,500 square feet of energy-efficient LED lighting.

A view of the facade of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Photo: AT Staff)

A view of the facade of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Photo: AT Staff)

The stadium is also home to hundreds of pieces of unique art, according to Jenkins. According to the stadium’s website, Mercedes-Benz Stadium partnered with the Savannah College of Art and Design to select 54 local and international artists who created works related to football, soccer and the history of Atlanta and Georgia.

What’s next for the stadium? It will play host to the men’s NCAA Final Four tournament in 2020, adding just one more use to this multipurpose stadium.

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About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Athletic Turf's former managing editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at Athletic Turf, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

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