“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, “(Mercedes-Benz Stadium) officials are thrilled.”
The latest weather forecast calls for temperatures in the mid- to upper 50s at kickoff, dropping to about 50 during the game.
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 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, Arizona, in 2015.
The one-of-a-kind roof is a signature -- and hard-earned -- feature of the $1.5 billion stadium. 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.