The NFL insinuated Friday that a controversial proposed religious liberty bill in Georgia could hurt Atlanta’s bid to host a Super Bowl.
The bill would allow faith-based organizations to deny services to people who violate their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” It is essentially a way around the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage.
The statement from league spokesman Brian McCarthy said the following, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites.”
Falcons owner Arthur Blank expressed similar concerns in regards to the bill:
“One of my bedrock values is ‘Include Everyone’ and it’s a principle we embrace and strive to live each and every day with my family and our associates, a vast majority of which live and work in Georgia. I strongly believe a diverse, inclusive and welcoming Georgia is critical to our citizens and the millions of visitors coming to enjoy all that our great state has to offer. House Bill 757 undermines these principles and would have long-lasting negative impact on our state and the people of Georgia.”
The Falcons are expected to open up the 2017 season in their new stadium, called Mercedes-Benz Stadium that broke ground in May of 2014. It is projected to cost a total of $1.4 billion.
Their current stadium, the Georgia Dome, has been home to numerous sporting events, ranging from Final Fours to Super Bowls. Part of the incentive in building Mercedes-Benz Stadium was to get another Super Bowl to Atlanta, as the Georgia Dome is now very much outdated compared to other possible Super Bowl host cities.
Atlanta could also be granted the Super Bowl, and have it moved. The NFL did so in 1992, moving the Super Bowl from Arizona to the Rose Bowl after Arizona refused to recognize the Martin Luther King holiday.
Governer Nathan Deal has until May 3 to decide on whether or not to sign the legislation, per the AJC.