Yesterday the NFL awarded the 2019 Super Bowl to Atlanta, a move that would not have been possible without Governor Nathan Deal’s veto of House Bill 757, Georgia’s “license to discriminate.” HB 757 would have overturned Atlanta’s long-standing LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance, jeopardizing games like the Super Bowl.
Atlanta had previously been shortlisted to host either the 2019 or 2020 Super Bowl, but HB 757 threatened the city’s place on that list. Opponents of the bill—including the NFL itself as well as Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank—worried about the impact such a license to discriminate would have on the tens of thousands of fans who would attend the Super Bowl in Atlanta.
NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. -The National Football League
After HB 757 passed the legislature in March the NFL wasted no time condemning the action and warning Georgia lawmakers that it could have dire consequences for Atlanta’s Super Bowl hopes. The NFL has long been a strong supporter of LGBT non-discrimination, and has also been known to relocate tournaments to make a statement about civil rights. In a statement released just after the bill’s passage, the organization hinted it might just do that: “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.”
One of HB 757’s most outspoken opponents was Atlanta Falcons owner Blank.
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. -Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons
Blank has already committed $15 million to the Falcons’ new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a project expressly undertaken to woo the NFL into considering Atlanta for future Super Bowls. After the bill’s passage, Blank aired his concerns as a businessman—both for his investment and his employees: “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.”
If the NFL had declined Atlanta’s bid to host the 2019 Super Bowl, the economic effects would have been disastrous. In addition to nullifying Blank’s $15 million investment, HB 757 would have cost the city and state hundreds of millions in tourism revenue. A postgame study from 2015 indicated that Super Bowl XLIX—hosted in the Scottsdale metro area—had a $719 million economic impact on the entire state of Arizona. Economic impact studies on this year’s Super Bowl in Santa Clara show California could gross up to $800 million from the game.
The economic boon Super Bowl LII will bring to Georgia could have very well gone to another state had Governor Deal not stood up for LGBT non-discrimination. If you haven’t yet, thank Governor Deal for protecting our economy and for protecting LGBT Georgians by vetoing HB 757.SHARE THIS STORY