Giant steel falcon takes flight in front of new Atlanta stadium

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A giant steel falcon will greet visitors upon their entrance to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the new home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

With a wingspan that stretches 70 feet, and a height of 43 feet — it is now the world’s largest freestanding bird sculpture in the world, according to the team.

The artist behind the piece is Hungary’s Gábor Miklós Szőke, who was commissioned by the Atlanta Falcons to make something one of a kind. In a stadium with numerous state-of-the-art features, this needed to make a statement.

“I have always liked to spark a reaction,” Szőke says, “It is a special honor for me that I was asked to do this.”

And spark he made, one he calls “the biggest” of his career.

This dirty bird is made up of over 1,000 pieces of stainless steel, adorned with two polished eyes. It clutches a 13-foot football made of bronze.

“Rise Up” — the team’s motto — begins to take on a whole new meaning.

Working in conjunction with the Savannah College of Art and Design, it took more than a year to construct, and it had to be built in parts. Szőke and his team of over 150 people built sections of four pieces in Budapest, and had the sections shipped for assembly in Atlanta.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank flew to Budapest to meet with Szőke to talk concepts last year, and after a few different iterations of design, the final one now stands at the entrance.

It almost didn’t happen, though. Szőke says the initial email went to his spam folder.

It looks a little like a transformer, ready and waiting to take flight.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium is scheduled to open August 26 for a Falcons preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.

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