NFL plans closed roof for Super Bowl game, open for pregame festivities

NFL plans closed roof for Super Bowl game, open for pregame festivities

The retractable roof at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is officially complete. The stadium opened 10 months ago and now the roof is ready.

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 early Sunday afternoon: "Here's the plan, weather permitting. The roof will be closed during on-field warmups 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 afternoon, ending a week of speculation about whether the stadium’s famous roof would be open or closed for the Patriots-Rams game.

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SUPER BOWL 53 IN ATLANTA

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.”

Today’s 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.

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.

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. Since then, they have been able to open or close it in about eight minutes.