- Views & Opinions
Mindful of Atlanta’s bid to host the Super Bowl, Falcons owner Arthur Blank said he opposes a measure approved by the Georgia Legislature that would allow businesses and organizations to discriminate against LGBT people.
The NFL has acknowledged the religious exemptions bill, passed by both houses of the Legislature but still needing the signature of Gov. Nathan Deal, could have an impact on the selection process for the championship game in 2019 and 2020.
Atlanta is one of the finalists for the next two Super Bowls, along with New Orleans, Miami and Tampa. The city has been considered a clear favorite because of its new retractable-roof stadium, set to open next year.
The so-called religious exemptions bill could change that.
“NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other improper standard,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said. “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.”
Blank said he opposes the bill, the latest in a string of business leaders to come out against the proposed law. He was a co-founder of Home Depot and has owned the Falcons since 2002.
“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,” Blank said in a statement. “House Bill 757 undermines these principles and would have long-lasting negative impact on our state and the people of Georgia.”
The city has hosted the Super Bowl two times, in 1994 and 2000. Subsequent bids failed to gain approval, with the NFL saying the city would be in a much stronger position if it built a new stadium to replace the 24-year-old Georgia Dome.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium is going up next door to the Georgia Dome, which will be leveled after its replacement opens. The new $1.4 billion facility has already helped Atlanta land the college football championship game in 2018 and the NCAA Final Four in 2020.
More about the Georgia bill.