Good morning. This is LEADOFF, today’s early look inside Atlanta sports.
Additional doors may be installed at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this year as part of efforts to alleviate the considerable congestion exiting the stadium.
Fans have expressed concern about clogged concourses and exits after numerous events, most recently the college football national championship game on Jan. 8, and the egress issue showed up in fan surveys conducted by the NFL and MLS.
“Our toughest issue is exit, when everybody leaves at the same time,” Steve Cannon, CEO of Falcons and Atlanta United parent company AMB Group, said in an interview last week.
“We’ve got two additional doors that we’re talking about adding into the glass area that exits out onto the ‘Front Porch’ -- more exit portals for people,” Cannon added. “We can just spread them out more. So that’s going to be a running change that we’ll have ready before next season, and there will be some other tweaks.”
Adjustments were made during the stadium’s first five months of operation to address the issue, Cannon said.
“It has been an ongoing issue that we have addressed with lots of behind-the-scenes tweaks,” he said. “We have actually made physical changes to the building to address certain pinch points.
“… We’ve got more work to be done. But I think if you could point to one thing where we said, ‘All right, that’s something we’re going to work on,’ it will be how do we get people quickly, efficiently and safely out of our building when 70,000 people stay until the final whistle.”
An example of a change already made, Cannon said, was the removal of a storage area near a display of Georgia high schools’ football helmets to free up four additional feet of concourse egress space in “one of our areas of concern.”
Overall, Mercedes-Benz Stadium scored high in the NFL and MLS fan surveys, ranking first in MLS and third in the NFL in overall game-day satisfaction. The stadium ranked No. 1 in both leagues in all food-and-beverage categories. See that story here.
MORNING READING …
> The Falcons didn’t make it back to the Super Bowl, but Atlanta nevertheless will have a large delegation there. Dozens of Atlantans will pack their heaviest coats and travel to Minneapolis this week, part of their preparation for hosting the mega-event here next year. See story here.
> And why is the Super Bowl in Minneapolis, where the morning low temperature Monday was 4 degrees? Read Jeff Schulz’s column.
> The New England Patriots will seek to add to their modern-era dynasty on Sunday. See D. Orlando Ledbetter’s story here.