Retractable roofs are fancy and cool. I get it. I remember when Toronto's SkyDome installed the first-ever fully retractable roof in 1989 and I'm still enamored by the process and the resultant experience.
But I also don't believe stadiums with retractable roofs — or roofs at all — are necessary in the majority of North American sports cities. The elements are supposed to be a part of the game. I have no problem embracing technology, but teams should only compete under cover in order to avoid conditions that would dramatically impact the game in a negative way. In other words, if the game can be played and not severely affected either way, roofs should not be involved.
That's why I don't believe it makes sense to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money in order to install roofs, retractable or not. That's the debate the Atlanta Falcons are having regarding their potential new stadium. And as a result of that debate, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has discovered that retractable roofs are closed 66 percent of the time.
The team insists that they'd keep the roof open as often as possible, but that hasn't been the case in places like Dallas, Indianapolis, Houston and Arizona. Maybe things will be different in Atlanta, but is it worth an extra $185 million?
I'd prefer to see the Falcons go roof-less for the reasons I explained above, but I also realize that the city wants to be able to host Final Fours and Super Bowls. The reality is that they can still host a slew of big events — and maybe even a Super Bowl — in an open-air environment. Forget the roof. It'll create a better fan experience and it'll save you a ton of cash.
(Hat tip: Shutdown Corner)