The New Atlanta Stadium will be a 65,000 retractable roof behemoth built for the Atlanta Falcons and mega events, with a bit of soccer thrown in. The venue will be the home for the new Atlanta MLS club, utilizing a curtain system similar to what the Vancouver Whitecaps use at BC Place to bring the capacity down and create a more intimate atmosphere.
It's unlikely that Arthur Blank (and the local government who are helping fund it) is building a $1.2 billion dollar stadium just for the Falcons and MLS. They're going to chase other sporting events, from Final Fours and bowl games, to United States matches. Yep, you can bet the national team will play there at some point, be it a friendly, qualifier or Gold Cup.
Depending on the size of the match, the U.S. could have the full 65,00-seat capacity for their match there, or the reduced 29,000-seat capacity with the curtains.
If they open up the entire stadium, it will look like this (albeit without the football lines).
And if it is limited to 29,000, the venue will look like this.
If the stadium is completely opened up and full, it will probably be a fantastic atmosphere for a match. However, we have seen at BC Place that the curtain system can be ineffective. Sure, it's better than being able to see all the empty seats, but that space doesn't just go away and there is still a feeling of emptiness.
The New Atlanta Stadium will be able to ensure an acceptably wide field -- something we know isn't always the case in venues designed primarily for football -- because it will use retractable seating in the corners. That is similar to what MetLife Stadium has, allowing the seats to retract and giving the added field space necessary for soccer, which has a wide playing surface than football.
Unfortunately, the New Atlanta Stadium is also slated to have turf. That means any match played there will have to use temporary grass, unless it hosts the Gold Cup because CONCACAF doesn't require grass like U.S. Soccer does. Regardless, the field will be sub-par and, as long as Jurgen Klinsmann is manager, the number of matches it holds will probably be limited because he is especially particular about playing surfaces.
The stadium isn't supposed to open until 2017 so there is plenty of time before the New Atlanta Stadium becomes an option, but it will become an option one day, and almost certainly a U.S. Soccer host stadium. That means U.S. Soccer gets the good -- another site in the south, a major city, a brand new venue and a suitable sized field -- and the bad -- potentially the curtains and turf.
Photos via New Atlanta Stadium