Goodell on ‘religious liberty’ bill, Atlanta’s Super Bowl bid

BOCA RATON, Fla. – With the Super Bowl process moving forward, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell noted on Wednesday that the league is closely monitoring Georgia House Bill 757, the so-called ‘religious liberty’ bill.

“That’s something that obviously the community is focused on,” Goodell said. “The legislation, we are aware of that. We’ll see when they make a decision on that.”

The Falcons, who are set to open play in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2017, are bidding to host the Super Bowl in either 2019 or 2020.

If Georgia chooses to turn the “religious liberty” bill into law, Atlanta will not likely land the Super Bowl.

The NFL has previously moved a Super Bowl from Arizona to the Rose Bowl near Los Angeles in the 1992 season after that state refused to recognize the Martin Luther King holiday.

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“The bid process goes into April and all factors will be considered,” Goodell said. “The membership makes decisions upon the basis of each individual club. If they want to vote for it they will weigh certain issues however they determine to weigh them. That’s something that each owner will have to make that decision in May.”

Atlanta hosted Super Bowls in 1994 and 2000, but failed in subsequent bids after an ice storm disrupted the 2000 event.

The Falcons are finalizing plans for their Super Bowl presentation to the NFL owners at a meeting May 23-25 in Charlotte, N.C.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank has opposed the bill and has the support of head coach Dan Quinn.

Blank reiterated his position in an interview with the NFL Network on Tuesday.

Blank said that the bill would have “long-lasting negative impacts on our state and the people of Georgia.” Blank’s $1.4 billion downtown stadium is being partially funded with local tax dollars. The NFL has routinely rewarded communities with new stadiums by delivering to them a Super Bowl.

“I strongly believe a diverse, inclusive and welcoming Georgia is critical to our citizens and the millions of visitors coming to enjoy all that our great state has to offer,” Blank said.

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