Please, let sun (or moon) shine in on Falcons

Pictured here outside Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay has some good stuff to stay lately about the new digs. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay assured the world this week, via an NBC Sports interview, that the Mercedes-Benz Stadium roof will open and close like a carp’s mouth by late August. Or words along those lines.

The Prez’s message was stridently upbeat, reassuring even, given the delays that have accompanied the grand notion that a team whose ceiling is ever-expanding requires a roof to match.

The world’s most complicated cover – what Michelangelo would have done with the Sistine Chapel if only he had a wrench instead of a brush – will be functioning by the Aug. 26 Falcons-Cardinals exhibition game, McKay flatly stated. Finally, a concrete assurance amid the doubts.

Taking him at his word, there follows the question: So, will the roof be opened or closed for the grand unveiling?

You’d like to think all concerned are very open-minded on this subject.

Let’s hope it’s a fine late-summer day and evening in Atlanta, and there’s the first open-air professional football game played in this city since the Falcons beat Seattle on Dec. 15, 1991. A little fresh air never hurt anyone.

Beyond the preseason, there will linger the question of just how much that retractable roof will get retracted. Will the roof be opened enough to justify all the added expense and stress that went into its construction?

History has shown in the case of the other three retractable-roof NFL stadiums, the roofs are closed about two-thirds of the time. And, of course, always closed in the case of other big events that require environmental certainty.

The last Super Bowl was played in Houston’s convertible stadium. The temperature was fairly mild that night, with a 20 percent chance of rain and a 100 percent chance of heartbreak by the end. The roof stayed tightly closed. At least as I recall – the details of that one got a little blurry.

In fact, every Houston home game that season was under a roof. It is just too easy to default to comfort.

Atlanta’s weather is somewhat less liquid than Houston’s, so any strict comparison is not reliable.

But, human nature being what it is, will fans prefer their heads shaded and their air conditioned unless the weather happens to be absolutely perfect? And perfect is a state that nature so rarely adopts.

And what of the competitive considerations? Might not the Falcons and their sporty offense lobby for controlled, predictable conditions over the chaos of a random breeze? There is no better laboratory for offensive innovation than a stadium with fake grass and a tight lid.

Holding in the noise rather than allowing to seek the clouds also is a proven benefit to the home team. And this particular home team loves its stadium noise, sometimes too much.

ESPN’s Jon Gruden has opined: “Every time I’m in a retractable-roof stadium, I wonder why it’s closed.” But the voices for football in the raw are few.

If Arthur Blank’s place pops the top on half its games, that would be a small miracle. Befitting the roof itself.

Reader Comments 0

15 comments
James Bold
James Bold

I will never understand this generation of fan.  Me?  No football game should EVER be played under a roof.  Wind, rain, and even snow make the game compelling.  This need for endless "comfort" does is a mystery to me.  That is why I will take in a game at open-air Suntrust Park ANY time over another indoor stadium whose roof will rarely be opened.    What a waste of an additional billion dollars.

nowhereman
nowhereman

I hope it's not as ugly inside as it is on the outside. Open air suits me best. Another dumb dome.

ATL89
ATL89

Take the time to do it right, so the new stadium won't have problems in the future, and even stay in the Dome a little while longer, if you have to.....

ENRICO
ENRICO

I could care less. The tickets are outrageous and I don't care to see Blank running around with some teenager that is supposedly his wife.

RonMexico
RonMexico

@ENRICO His wife is 48. But don't let that get in the way of some mediocre snark.

Thrash
Thrash

The Falcons have already said it will be open for home games.

ShovelPlease
ShovelPlease

@Thrash  Well there you have it.  If the Falcons have said it, it must be true. 

James Bold
James Bold

@Thrash As all other retractable roof stadiums have proven, even a hint of adverse weather will keep the roof closed.   It will rarely, if ever, be open.  Just a waste of an additional billion dollars so Arthur could have his show piece.  

RonRoberts
RonRoberts

Now that we've seen what they're going to build in Vegas, and what's coming in L.A., and what the Vikings got, I'm sort of of the opinion what Atlanta's getting is going to look clunky and outdated the day it opens.  So cavernous looking; minimal opportunity for natural light to get in. That ring of a scoreboard (the one L.A.'s getting is preferable) will only "tunnel" what little light the small portion of ETFE roofing lets in.

But I was never fond of this design in the first place.  My .02

Thrash
Thrash

@RonRoberts Been in the Vikings stadium, it's terrible, won't hold a candle to MBS.

James Bold
James Bold

@RonRoberts Open air stadiums....those are the only ones that should be permitted in the NFL.  Domes and retractable roofs should be banned.

slewis1952
slewis1952

Its too darned hot in late August to keep the roof open. Its also too bot in September and part of Oct. We've spent on PSL's and tickets. Now lets all be comfortable.


Constantine156
Constantine156

What difference does it make if it's open or closed as long as it works.