ATLANTA -- While its complexity has forced Mercedes-Benz Stadium's opening to be delayed, the roof reached a major milestone by opening on Thursday.
The stadium was delayed for a third time after stadium officials announced that continuing analysis of the roof will push back the opening to Aug. 26, an Atlanta Falcons preseason game. The original opening was scheduled for March, 2017, then July 30, 2017 and now August 26, 2017.
While the opening of the roof's eight moving panels is a big accomplishment, Arthur Blank said on Friday that there's still much more left in the process of completing the roof made up of 27,000-tons of steel.
"They have to complete the process, having the pedals extended on, put the tips on, make sure it operates properly with the open position, do the same thing in the closed position," Blank said. "There are two different positions that have to meet (certificate of occupancy) requirements. We've got a couple of thousand men and women that are dedicated working 24/7, literally 24/7 in making that happen."
Steve Cannon, the CEO of AMB Group, revealed on Tuesday that the Georgia Dome would remain intact as an "insurance policy" in case more issues arise. It was originally scheduled to be demolished this summer.
Blank wouldn't discuss the readiness of the stadium if it would end up getting used, saying the Dome has likely already held its final event.
"We don't expect it to stay up. We anticipate the decommission process to begin again in June," Blank said.
As for the stadium's delay, Blank used a unique metaphor:
"This is several months over a 30-40 month period time. It's like when you're teenager and have a pimple, it goes away. It's just a process we'll go through. We have every confidence that we'll be open it this summer."
The stadium delay has forced one Atlanta United FC match to be moved to Bobby Dodd Stadium and two other games rescheduled for a later date in the stadium. Blank said he's a little disappointed that the original deadlines won't be met.
"You're always a little disappointed. But you have to look at these things in the grand scheme of the stadium. The complexity of it, the details of it, everything it takes to complete it and complete it properly, make sure that it's represents the very best of everything we had planned on," he said. "You don't want to open up something sooner than you should and have a lot of disappointments rather than open it up a month, two months, three months later and make sure everything's operating the way it exactly it should operate."
Blank said it will not affect any other events, including the NFL events already scheduled.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said on Friday that he wishes people would not worry.
"When you're building the best, the best takes time. Would you want to rush and after having made the investments that we've made not have something amazing. Everybody who knows Arthur Blank knows that quality is what's important to him," Reed said.
Reed said the city's contribution to the stadium is capped, and that none of the additional expenses will be placed on tax payers.
"I think everybody ought to be delighted in order to avoid a bad story," he said. "It will be ready. We will get through this."PHOTOS | Green space announced at Mercedes-Benz Stadium