Super Bowl LI is just a few days away and the hype machine is rolling. Though many roofing contractors are certainly football fans — and some even have pro teams as clients — not much thought may be given to the host venue’s roof. Until now.
Houston’s NRG Stadium has been in the news for weeks as the NFL’s elite teams battled for a shot at lifting the Lombardi Trophy. Roofing Contractor took a closer look at the site of Super Bowl LI and wanted to share what we found.
1. Pro Pioneer
NRG Stadium first opened as Reliant Stadium in 2002 after two years of construction. It was the first NFL stadium with a retractable roof, which reportedly cost $48 million of the estimated $450 million project executed by Oklahoma-based general contractor Manhattan Construction Group. Despite its availability, the roof is rarely opened for football games — the Houston Texans did not play with an open roof throughout the eight game home schedule this season.
2. Super Spotlight
Some venues around the country seem like they’re ripe for great Super Bowls — think the Louisiana Super Dome (seven Super Bowls); the Rose Bowl; and Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium (five Super Bowls each). Houston’s NRG Stadium hasn’t quite reached that level, but is one of the few venues around the United States that will now boast two Super Bowls this century.
Coincidentally, the New England Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004, narrowly edging the Carolina Panthers 32-29 before a crowd of 71,525.
2. Nostalgic Neighbor
In addition to hosting two Super Bowls in a 13-year span, NRG Stadium is also unique in NFL circles in that it actually still sits next to its mothballed predecessor. The famous Huston Astrodome — the world’s first multi-purpose stadium with a domed roof — is literally just steps away from the site of Super Bowl LI. Though it hasn’t hosted an event since 2008, the 52-year-old venue is still maintained by public tax dollars and revered by most Houston residents.
It’s also on the verge of a rebirth, of sorts. Studies for a $105 million proposal to repurpose the property as a convention center and parking garage are scheduled to begin next week.
3. Going Gaga on the Roof
It’s been rumored for weeks that Lady Gaga — the NFL’s pick for the much-anticipated halftime show — wants to perform on the NRG Stadium roof, which would require its closure regardless of weather conditions. Ideas reportedly ranged from extremes like cutting a hole in the fabric roof for her to repel through, to pre-taping a stunt similar to a high-cost commercial, according to published reports. She didn’t reveal details, but the singing sensation confirmed upon her arrival in Houston Tuesday that she will perform while suspended from the roof.
5. Open or Shut?
The NFL won't make a final determination if the retractable roof will be open or closed for the game until Saturday, at the earliest. It takes about 10 minutes for the roof to completely open, but if it’s closed at kickoff, it must stay closed for the entire game. League rules also stipulate that once the decision is made to open the roof, it must physically happen no later than when pre-game warm ups begin.
For what it’s worth, the roof was closed during Super Bowl XXXVIII as nearly a half-inch of rain fell that day. Early forecasts project a chance for scattered showers Sunday afternoon and evening, just in time for the 6:30 p.m. kickoff between the Patriots and Atlanta Falcons.
Looking for more? Take a quick peek at the host site for next year’s big game — the recently opened U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.