“No dome, no Super Bowl” in Atlanta — Norman Braman, then-chairman of the NFL’s Super Bowl selection committee, 1989
“… we could not overcome the prejudice of the owners’ vote concerning the 2000 ice storm” the last time the Super Bowl was in Atlanta — Gary Stokan, president of the Atlanta Sports Council, in a 2005 memo
“The [Super Bowl] is meant to be played in the elements” — Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, 2010
Which of these statements does not belong?
There are any number of reasons to oppose using tax revenues to build a second downtown stadium for professional football. First and foremost, there are far more pressing needs for the several million dollars a year in Atlanta hotel taxes that will be freed up when the Georgia Dome is paid off. (Our GOP-dominated Legislature and Republican governor apparently thought otherwise this spring when they approved a 30-year extension of the tax to pay for a new stadium.)
There may also be reasons to support the new facility. Bringing the Super Bowl back to Atlanta isn’t one of them. That goes double after the NFL’s double-speak last week.
For years, Atlantans were told we needed a domed — read: bad-weather-proof — stadium to land the Super Bowl. Then a rare ice storm hit during the second one played here, in 2000. The game hasn’t returned since.
Now, we’re supposed to believe that the problem is our lack of a stadium that would expose players and fans to the same “elements” that have scared off the NFL for more than a decade. Which is it, fellas?
It’s fairly obvious that the NFL’s “elements” talk is all about boosting the Falcons’ bid for a new home. Because the history of the game beyond Atlanta doesn’t support the commissioner’s “elements” claim.
Thirteen of the 44 Super Bowls to date have been played indoors. Of the other 31, just eight have been played farther north than Atlanta: seven in and around that “northern” city of Los Angeles, and one near San Francisco. The last of these eight took place in 1993.
Twice the Super Bowl has been played in a stadium with a retractable roof. On neither occasion was the roof kept open for the game. (During one of them it was raining, but rain must represent the wrong kind of “elements” for championship football.) Three of the next four Super Bowls, the only future games whose sites have been determined so far, will be played in stadiums with roofs.
The exception is the 2014 game outside New York City. NFL owners approved that game site for the novelty factor of staging their big game in the Big Apple, and in spite of their meteorological misgivings. In any case, one game does not make a trend.
Nor is it likely that an Atlanta with two football stadiums could attract many more football games — and the fans who fill our hotels and restaurants while in town to witness them — than the city attracts now.
We already have the Southeastern Conference title game (moved here from an outdoor stadium in Birmingham because of — wait for it — “the elements”). We already have the Chick-fil-A Bowl (which moved from the great outdoors of old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to a brand-new Georgia Dome faster than you can say “Eat mor chikin”) and, soon, two preseason college games. Plus, of course, two college football programs, another one just up the road, and an NFL franchise.
So, maybe a second stadium gets us a couple of Super Bowls and, in the rosiest scenario imaginable, some opening-round games in a single soccer World Cup.
In which case I’d tell the NFL to play its big game in somebody else’s elements. We’ll watch it on TV, thanks.