Preseason schedule could offer hints about Falcons stadium progress

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There’s very little of what you’d call intrigue associated with today’s NFL preseason schedule announcement, but there are a few things worth paying attention to as it pertains to bigger issues.

For instance, the Falcons’ schedule could present a few clues as to how ready they think Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be, considering the target date for the new building has already been delayed twice and could be again.

Originally planned to open March 1, it was pushed back to June 1 and eventually July 30, and last week’s expected update on construction was even late on arrival.

A corporate spokesman said last Friday the Falcons wouldn’t have another update for at least a week.

“[Construction crews] are going around the clock, and it’s going well, but they are still working through a lot of information and interdependent work schedules,” senior vice president and chief communications officer of Falcons parent company AMB Group Brett Jewkes said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If and when we have anything to update, we will.”

The issue seems to be with the retractable roof, and there’s a reasonable question to ask about whether games could be played there if it was either open or closed. They’re supposed to begin playing MLS matches there July 30, and another couple of soccer matches in August. The big-ticket items are a pair of college football games in early September.

Gary Stokan, who runs the Chick-fil-A Kickoff event said his organization has “full assurances from the Falcons” that the Alabama-Florida State (Sept. 2) and Georgia Tech-Tennessee (Sept. 4) games can be played in the new stadium.

If that’s the case, the Falcons ought to be fine for the regular season. But if the league puts their preseason home games in Week Three or Four (or in another stadium), it could be a sign of concern about their grand opening.