NFL wants roof open for next season's Super Bowl in Atlanta

ATLANTA -- The NFL wants the retractable roof at Atlanta's $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium open for the next Super Bowl, weather permitting.

Super Bowl LIII is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2019.

"Certainly where we've been in stadia with retractable roofs, our preference is always to open the roof," said Peter O'Reilly, the NFL's senior vice president of events. "We did that in Arizona for Super Bowl XLIX in a model there where they typically don't open the roof for a stadium, but we opened it for the Super Bowl.

"It our mind, [an open roof] creates some great energy in that building. We obviously will be down for a number of Falcons games this fall. And I know the plan is for it to be open, pending weather. So we'll evaluate it and watch that."

Falcons president Rich McKay firmly believes the 14.5-acre retractable roof will be fully functional for the 2018 football season after construction issues kept it closed for the majority of the '17 season. The Falcons played just one game with the roof open: last September's home-opening win over Green Bay in a Sunday night clash.

"I would love to see it open," McKay said of the roof for Super Bowl LIII. "That would mean we're having good weather."

The opening of the roof is a 12-minute process, McKay said, and a decision must be made 90 minutes prior to kickoff. In relation to the Super Bowl, the decision to open or close the roof is solely up to the NFL. Officials won't stray from the 90-minute window.

The last time the Super Bowl was in Atlanta was Jan. 30, 2000, when an ice storm paralyzed the city as the St. Louis Rams topped the Tennessee Titans 23-16 inside the Georgia Dome. Falcons owner Arthur Blank called the conditions "1-in-100 years kind of freak stuff" and unlikely to occur again.

Two seasons ago, the Falcons lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI at Houston's NRG Stadium. The retractable roof there was closed due to humidity, O'Reilly said.

According to Accuweather, the highest temperature within the first 10 days of this past February in Atlanta was 69 degrees while the low was 32 degrees.

"Again, barring weather -- including temperature -- we'd love to have the roof open and really showcase the building at its fullest," O'Reilly said of Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

On Wednesday, the league awarded the 2023 Super Bowl to Arizona, offering another chance to open the retractable roof at University of Phoenix Stadium for the NFL's biggest event.