Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened six months ago.
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

Falcons will hire consultant to assess Mercedes-Benz Stadium egress issues

The Falcons organization is in the process of hiring an outside expert to evaluate egress issues at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a state board was informed Tuesday. 

The Falcons “are going to bring in a consultant to review their egress thesis,” Georgia World Congress Center Authority chief operating officer Kevin Duvall told the GWCCA board at its monthly meeting. 

Congestion in the concourses and gate areas after events has drawn complaints from fans since the stadium opened six months ago. And GWCCA board members, who have an oversight role over the state-owned, Falcons-operated stadium, last month expressed stern concern about several aspects of the stadium’s operation, including egress and the audio system. 

Additional doors – three sets of double doors and one overhead rolling door – have been installed this month on the east end of the building. 

The consultant, not yet selected, will be tasked with evaluating the steps taken so far and looking for potential additional improvements. 

Regarding the criticism of the stadium’s audio clarity, Duvall told the GWCCA board Tuesday that the Falcons have been conducting tests throughout the seating bowl “to make sure they find the right solution for that.” A possible solution will be tested in several suites at Atlanta United’s home opener March 11, he said. 

“Once they have pegged the right solution, they are going to apply funds to correct that situation,” Duvall said. 

Falcons officials didn’t attend Tuesday’s meeting, but Duvall said they have reiterated “they will be back in front of this board” with more details.

GWCCA board members, who were sharply critical at their January meeting, seemed pleased with the Falcons organization’s subsequent actions.

“Based on what I’ve seen, it looks like they’re tracking in the right direction, and they will address some significant concerns,” board member Glenn Hicks said. 

“I appreciate the fact, after our dialogue last month, which you might characterize as confrontational at times, that they have included the audio issues and the egress issues,” board member Brian Robinson said. “I was concerned early in the meeting last time … so I appreciate that that’s being addressed.” 

The board also reviewed a list of 19 capital-improvement expenditures the Falcons have proposed for the stadium at a combined cost of about $3.4 million, which will essentially be paid from Atlanta hotel-motel tax revenue under terms of the stadium deal.

The items, which drew no objections from the board, include the new doors, adding a roof structure above a trash compactor, adding a guard shack at the loading dock and installing new anchors for the curtains used to close off the upper deck during most Atlanta United matches.

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