Near the end of a Monday night conference call with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and the team’s season-ticket holders, a fan asked a question about the new open-air stadium Blank and his franchise are seeking.
The fan put Goodell on the spot and asked him to guarantee a Super Bowl if a new stadium comes to Atlanta.
“I love the question,’’ said Blank, who had stayed quiet most of the night as Goodell fielded questions mostly about the league’s labor issues.
Blank and the Falcons have been talking about their desire for a new stadium in the next few years. They haven’t settled on a site, but have indicated their preference would be to remain in downtown Atlanta, close to the site of the existing Georgia Dome.
Atlanta last hosted a Super Bowl in the 1999 season. Although the game was played outdoors, the week was marred by frigid weather and an ice storm (complete with lengthy power outages) that interfered with many of the pre-Super Bowl events in the week leading into the game.
This year’s Super Bowl in North Texas faced similar weather issues and there has been some speculation that the NFL might get away from awarding future Super Bowls to cities where there is the potential for cold weather. However, the 2012 game is set for Indianapolis, which has an indoor stadium, and the 2014 game is scheduled for New York/New Jersey, which has an open-air stadium.
In the past, the Super Bowl frequently has been awarded to cities that have built new stadiums.
Although the last Atlanta Super Bowl came with some issues and a new open-air stadium could open a game to weather challenges, Goodell sounded as if another Super Bowl in Georgia is a possibility. But he stopped short of making any promise.
“You have a great community,’’ Goodell said. “I think the stadium Arthur is talking about is going to be a great stadium. Hopefully, it will be a great host for the Super Bowl in the future.’’