Major League Soccer franchise Atlanta United and Major League Baseball team the Atlanta Braves will play home matches at 100% capacity from next month as roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination continues in the US.
Starting with the May 15 match against CF Montréal, Mercedes-Benz Stadium will operate at full capacity for Atlanta United games. The stadium, which also serves as the home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, has a capacity of 71,000.
AMB Sports and Entertainment, which owns and operates the stadium, said the decision has been taken due to increased access to vaccine distribution, increased health and safety protocols inside the venue, and high demand from fans. The two lower levels of the stadium will be open for Atlanta United games from May 15, as is usually the case for the team’s fixtures.
The Falcons are also planning for games to be at full capacity when the new NFL season gets underway in September. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently said that he expects to have full venues across the league from next season.
Steve Cannon, chief executive of AMB Sports and Entertainment, said: “We are excited to bring our fans back to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Given the increased opportunity for Georgians to be vaccinated, the abundant health protocols we have in place at the stadium and the interest from our season ticket members, we felt that now is the right time to reopen the stadium in full capacity allowing all our season ticket members a chance to enjoy watching their teams in person. We will continue to follow the necessary precautions to give fans a safe and clean environment.”
Health and safety protocols that will remain in place at the stadium will include face coverings, hand sanitisation stands, strict cleaning before, during and after events, and increased cleaning staff.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened at limited capacity for Falcons games last season. Atlanta United opened the stadium at 50% capacity for its first game of the season against Chicago Fire last weekend.
Meanwhile, the Braves are also set to open Truist Park at 100% capacity, starting with the May 7 game against the Philadelphia Phillies. The stadium has been staging games at 33% capacity since the season got underway earlier this month.
Derek Schiller, president and chief executive of the Braves, said the outdoor environment of Truist Park, coupled with safety measures in place and demand from supporters, mean it is the “right time” to return to full capacity.
Face coverings will continue to be a requirement for fans unless actively eating or drinking. Cashless concessions, mobile ticketing and a no-bag policy will also be in place, along with enhanced sanitisation efforts.