ATLANTA -- Atlanta United will be the first sporting event to play in the new $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium opening this year, the Arthur Blank Group announced on Friday.
Atlanta United, an MLS expansion team beginning competition in March, will play its first regular season game at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium stadium on July 30. The team's inaugural schedule will be released next week and will play its first home games at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Georgia Tech before moving into the new stadium.
The announcement signifies stadium officials' confidence that the stadium will be completed in time for the first event and the entire 2017-18 NFL season, including the preseason.
"What has been a work that has gone in for several years, now we're on the edge of planning to execution," Steve Cannon said, the CEO of the Arthur Blank Group. "We're in full speed mode. The pace of our construction has increased."
Cannon said that the most complex component of the stadium's construction, the structural steal, was completed in November. Now, they are in the final phases of construction and it's "off to the races" to complete the stadium.
The final stages include completing the retractable roof and the lower bowl section. They are also in the final phases of finishing the locker rooms, suites, offices and concession stands.
Cannon said they will begin taking over the stadium between April and June.
The stadium will host smaller events built around Atlanta United's home match to help prepare for larger events. These events will mostly be for club members, season ticket holders to the teams playing at the stadium, sponsors, etc. Those events have not yet been announced.
The Atlanta Falcons will play two preseason NFL games and the season opener in August at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The team's schedule will be announced in the spring. There will also be a "grand opening event" followed by two concerts in August. The concerts will be announced later in 2017.
The first two college football games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game between Alabama and Florida State on Sept. 2. Two days later, Tennessee and Georgia Tech will play.
The Georgia Dome's final event will be in March, and then a demolition date will be set.
PHOTOS | Mercedes-Benz Stadium Construction