HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama and Florida State have had September 2 circled for many months with the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Classic being their opening game of the 2017 season. Its also the first college football game in the new home of the SEC Championship, Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
“To think that your first game is going to be Alabama-Florida State…for us to be able to host it will be really neat,” Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay said at SEC Media Days. “My dad was a college football coach. He loved to play big games early, loved to come play Alabama, so I’m glad to see college football get back to that.”
McKay ensured everyone that the building and roof will be ready when the stadium opens August 26th, a delay of almost three months from the original intended opening date for the new building. He also said the building was built with each of their tenants in mind: the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United, and the SEC.
“We really want the building to feel different for [the SEC Championship] and that week even,” McKay said. “We want that building to feel like those teams, that’s their home stadium and we think we can create that environment.”
The fans were also a large focus for the new stadium. McKay said over 5,000 fans were interviewed about their desires, needs, and biggest gripes with the fan experience in the Georgia Dome. After listening to them, McKay and the Falcons increased the number of elevators, escalators, beer taps, and restaurants in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. They also dropped food prices, widened seats, and removed all signage from inside the stadium area.
“I just hope that when [the fans] leave that as much as that iconic design catches their eye, I hope that the fan experience and all the things that we tried to look out for and that they impacted, I hope they are wowed about those,” McKay said.
Mercedes Benz-Stadium will open with a Falcons preseason game but end their first full season with the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.