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GWCCA: ‘Remote chance’ Dome needed, but it ‘could be ready’

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority characterizes the chances of the Georgia Dome being used again as “remote,” but says the building “could be ready” if needed.

The GWCCA, the state agency that operated the Dome and on whose campus the delayed Mercedes-Benz Stadium is being built, weighed in late Wednesday in response to questions from the AJC.

“In the remote chance that we needed to use the Dome again, we are confident that we could be ready,” GWCCA spokesman Jason Kirksey said in an email. “As was mentioned by the team yesterday, we will know a lot more in June as far as timeline to restart the decommissioning of the Dome.”

Kirksey said only “the turf and some portable equipment” have been removed from the Dome at this point.

Steve Cannon, CEO of Falcons parent company AMB Group, said Tuesday that the opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be delayed for the third time by roof-related construction issues and that demolition of the Dome has been put on hold “until we are 100 percent certain of achieving our certificate of occupancy” required for holding events in the new stadium. He said a construction “milestone” in June will inform a decision on when “decommissioning” the Dome — preparing it for demolition — should resume.

On the other hand, if it appears in June that the Georgia Dome will be needed for the start of football season, there would be time to reinstall turf, retrieve equipment and get the building back up and running.

The new scheduled opening date for Mercedes-Benz Stadium is Aug. 26, when the Falcons are scheduled to play a home preseason game against Arizona.

The Georgia Dome, which officially closed on March 5, was originally slated for demolition in July. Cannon this week called the decision to keep it standing for a while longer “an insurance policy,” adding: “We do not expect to use the Georgia Dome whatsoever.”

But three previously announced opening dates for Mercedes-Benz Stadium — March 1, June 1 and July 30 — have been scrapped, affecting Atlanta United matches. And if the latest target is missed by even 10 days, there would need to be an alternate place to play two Falcons preseason games (Aug. 26 and Aug. 31) and two Chick-fil-A Kickoff college football games (Alabama vs. Florida State on Sept. 2 and Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee on Sept. 4.)

The Chick-fil-A Kickoff games are particularly important to the Atlanta hospitality industry because of the out-of-towners they bring to the city.

While the GWCCA operated the Georgia Dome for the past 25 years, the Falcons will operate Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“In the remote chance that we needed to use the Dome again, the Falcons would operate it,” Kirksey said.

Meanwhile, the company hired to liquidate the contents of the Georgia Dome, including selling the seats to fans, has had its work interrupted. Orders are still being taken for the seats, but the expected shipment date to customers has been changed from April 15 to “late summer.”

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