Once Mercedes-Benz Stadium is finished, the Georgia Dome will be torn down and will be replaced by a park. The 13-acre space will be for tailgating on game days and open to the public when the new stadium is not in use.
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank unveiled the plans on Friday. He said he wants the park, called Home Depot Backyard, to connect Atlanta’s Westside neighborhoods to the stadium and to downtown.
“What'll take place in terms of human spirit and human connectivity in this 13 acre area is going to be special every day, the other 300 days a year, when there are not spectacular events taking place within Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” he said.
There’s been a lack of economic development in the past in Westside neighborhoods, but change is coming, especially to those adjacent to the stadium. New parks are being built, the BeltLine is coming, and the city is about to break ground on the Proctor Creek Greenway. While some people have welcomed new energy and investment, many are concerned about affordable housing.
The Blank Foundation has given tens of millions of dollars to projects in English Avenue, Vine City and other Westside neighborhoods, focusing on jobs, health, public safety, education and the environment. And a couple hundred residents of those neighborhoods have worked on building the new stadium.
“Sports stadium have gotten a bad rap,” said Frank Fernandez, vice president of community development for the Blank Foundation. “They leave the city; they are open only 10 to 20 times a year and they are a ghost town, especially for football stadiums; and they don’t do much to lift up the community or neighborhoods around them. Mercedes-Benz stadium is now beginning to change that narrative.”
CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, the headline of an earlier version of this report misstated the ownership of the park that will be built to replace the Georgia Dome. It will be a private park open for public use.