Atlanta’s new stadium has a roof that is supposed to open and close with the flip of a switch. Until further notice, the switch will be in the “off” position.
Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the college football games due to be played on Labor Day weekend at the new venue will proceed with the roof closed. The stated reason for the decision is to “eliminate the variable of weather.”
Of course, the main purpose for having a roof that opens and closes on demand is to allow it to open when the weather is going to be favorable and to close when the weather will be inclement. The advance decision to go with a closed roof underscores the lingering challenges arising from the complex roof of the futuristic structure.
Gary Stokan, president and CEO of the company responsible for the Chik-fil-A Kickoff claimed that the Alabama-Florida State and Georgia Tech-Tennessee games will have a closed roof for reasons unrelated to construction delays that are currently pushing the stadium’s opening right up against the preseason games the Falcons will be hosting in late August. Stokan says he didn’t even ask whether the roof could have been open.
“I had concluded we were going to keep it closed, anyway, so I never even asked if we would be able to open it,” Stokan said. “I know when it’s closed everything is going to go well. The air conditioning will be fine. . . . I think whenever you put on an event the less things you need to be concerned about, the better. And I know with the roof closed it’ll be a great atmosphere and experience.”
It would be an even better atmosphere if the roof were open, and having the flexibility to make that decision as close to kickoff as possible is one of the benefits of having a roof that opens and closes. With plenty of rumors swirling that the roof isn’t working the way it should (and there are some concerns it may not work the way it should during the 2017 season, or ever), this development justifies curiosity that the new stadium will be like that convertible with the top that won’t swing open, no matter how warm or sunny it may be.