The NFL plans to have Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s retractable roof closed for the Super Bowl game tonight, but open for pregame festivities.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an email early this afternoon: “Here’s the plan, weather permitting. The roof will be closed during on-field warm-ups and then open for pregame festivities, including the national anthem featuring a flyover from the Air Force Thunderbirds. The roof will then close for the remainder of the night.”
The NFL made the decision Sunday after a week of speculation about whether the stadium’s famous roof would be open or closed for the Patriots-Rams game in Super Bowl LIII.
For months, NFL officials had said they hoped to play the Super Bowl with the roof open, weather permitting. The Falcons even more strongly wanted that or at least to have the roof open for pregame ceremonies.
“We want the world to see it,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said a few days ago, later adding: “I want to show that hardware off – eight petals (meaning sections) opening and closing in eight minutes. We’re fully rehearsed and ready to go.”
After the NFL made the decision today to open the roof for pregame festivities, Blank spokesman Brett Jewkes said: “MBS officials are thrilled.”
The latest weather forecast calls for temperatures in the upper-50s at kickoff, dropping to 50 by game’s end.
Barring precipitation, the Falcons typically will consider having the roof open for their games if the temperature is forecast to stay above 52 or 53 degrees, perhaps a bit higher for night games, team president Rich McKay told the AJC recently. However, the roof decision for the Super Bowl was not the Falcons’ to make. It was up to the NFL.
Peter O’Reilly, NFL senior vice president of events, had conceded in an interview with the AJC six days ago which way the decision might go: “I think it’s more likely that we’re closed,” he said, “given that the reality is even if the temperature is (high enough to open the roof during the day) you’re going into the night in that game, so the temperature will dip down. You could end up with a pretty different condition from pregame to end-of-game.”
O’Reilly said at the time that opening the roof for part of pregame ceremonies would be an option even if the decision ultimately was made to have it closed during the game.
This is the third Super Bowl in five years to be played in a retractable-roof stadium. The roof was closed at Houston’s NRG Stadium when the Falcons and Patriots played in Super Bowl LI two seasons ago. The roof was open for Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Ariz., in 2015.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s one-of-a-kind roof is a signature feature of the venue. The roof’s complexity caused months of construction delays and hundreds of millions of dollars in costs. The roof was still not fully operable when the stadium opened in 2017, but after much additional work it was declared fully functional by stadium officials last summer.
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