Atlanta Falcons fans are petitioning to watch Super Bowl 51 from inside the Georgia Dome. It’s an extreme long-shot to happen and here’s why.
Many Atlanta Falcons fans are petitioning to watch Super Bowl 51 from inside the Georgia Dome. It’s an idea even Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed supported via Twitter on Tuesday.
It would make a lot of sense for the Georgia Dome to throw a big Super Bowl party for fans; however, facility officials say it can’t happen. In a statement obtained by AJC.com, Georgia Dome officials said:
"“NFL rules prohibit us from using the Georgia Dome for broadcasting the game. Fans wishing to gather with other fans to watch the game can consider patronizing neighborhood businesses who will be showing the game.”"
Copyright Laws Prohibit Public Viewing Parties
Dome officials aren’t kidding. Very strict copyright laws restrict the viewing of events in which exclusive rights are held. According to US Code Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 110:
"“…the performance or display is by audiovisual means, any visual portion of the performance or display is communicated by means of a total of not more than 4 audiovisual devices, of which not more than 1 audiovisual device is located in any 1 room, and no such audiovisual device has a diagonal screen size greater than 55 inches…”"
In other words, copyright law prohibits viewing of the Super Bowl on very large televisions in public settings. Fans are okay to watch on their 70-inch television from the comforts of their own home. Watching at a bar or restaurant is also okay, as long as it meets all the confusing legal language set forth in the aforementioned copyright code.
The NFL has Sacked Viewing Parties Before
The bottom line is that the Georgia Dome cannot legally display the Super Bowl on their video boards. They also can’t throw a viewing party in which fans gather to watch the game on a cluster of smaller televisions. This very issue came up in 2007, when the NFL went after Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis for their Super Bowl viewing party plans.
Andrew Wagner was the first to open a petition through Change.org. Wagner made the following plea to fellow Atlanta Falcons fans:
"“Our city deserves to host the greatest party as we hopefully bring Atlanta’s second ever championship home. It would be a night to remember and a fitting way to truly send the Dome out in style. Besides, who wouldn’t want to lay back on the 50-yard line and watch it with fellow fans?”"
Atlanta Falcons Fans Hope Mayor Reed can Help
Wagner’s petition has accumulated 1,124 signatures as of this post. He posted a recent update that indicates Mayor Reed and Georgia Dome officials are, “trying to make [it] work”.
Nothing short of written permission from the NFL and Fox, the network that owns the exclusive broadcasting right to Super Bowl 51, can “make it work”. Networks spend a lot of money on the rights to broadcast the biggest game in North American sports. Common sense says very large Super Bowl parties all over the country would detract from ratings.
One final gathering inside the Dome would be the next best Super Bowl trip for Atlanta Falcons fans. The cheapest Super Bowl tickets still hover around $3,000 apiece. Add in the cost to travel 793 miles and hotel stay and it’s an experience very few fans can afford.