The Rules for Retractable Stadiums in the NFL

The Rules for Retractable Stadiums in the NFL

In this feature on football scoreboards, I will discuss the rules for retractable stadiums in the NFL. Even if you are the most hardened NFL who knows the rulebook inside out, I bet you don’t know these rules! Few people really so, and that is why I’ve decided to research into it and find out.

An increasing amount of NFL franchises are looking into or are already building stadiums with retractable roofs. Due to this fact, a need arose for the National Football League to clarify the rules for when such stadiums are open and closed. There are certain rules the NFL has with regards to retractable stadiums, and every football team also has its own rules in their respective stadiums.

Regular Game Play
It is the home team’s decision to close the roof or to leave it open during the game. This decision must be made at least an hour and a half before kickoff. Once the game has begun and it has been decided to close the roof, it has to stay shut for the whole game. It the game started with the roof open, but officials decided to close it because of bad weather, it cannot be reopened again until the end of the game. All regular season and preseason games are subject to these rules.

Overtime and End of Game
There are some occasions where the officials don’t have the right to close the roof, even if the weather conditions are adverse. These occasions include the fourth quarter’s final five minutes in a regular time of a game and also when the football scoreboards claim that a game must go into overtime. The only time an NFL official may decide to shut the roof is when the weather conditions are a hazard for the fans and the players (for example, during a severe thunder storm or hail storm).

Superbowl and Playoff Games
If a stadium with a retractable roof is set to host a Superbowl game or a divisional playoff, it is the NFL that decides if the roof should be closed or remain open during the game. Once this decision is made by the NFL, all of the other rules apply equally, such as the end of game, regular game play, and overtime roof rules. If at the start of the game the roof is open, it has to stay open unless there are adverse weather conditions. If the roof is to be closed by officials for this reason, it has to stay shut for the whole game.

So there you go – simple really! Personally I don’t like them, as I enjoy the unpredictability that crazy weather can bring to a game, but clearly they are here to stay, and with time will get more and more common in NFL stadiums.

For more information on retractable roofs, go to:

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