Atlanta will play host to Super Bowl XXVIII in early 1994, about a year and a half after the city's Georgia Dome is scheduled to open, the owners determined during the first day of the league's annual spring meeting.
Atlanta was selected over New Orleans, Miami and Tampa, Fla., during voting that, according to NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, went to four ballots.
The prospect of staging the game in a new domed stadium swung the vote Atlanta's way, Tagliabue said.
"Without the dome, there would have been no Super Bowl," Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson said after the decision was announced. "That's the bottom line. We had to stay at the front end of the curve with our advantages."
Construction on the stadium began only recently in downtown Atlanta, and Tagliabue noted that "There is concern" among the league's owners that the facility might not be ready for the Super Bowl in '94. All construction contracts must be in order by Sept. 1 before Atlanta's bid for the game is secure," Tagliabue said.
But members of the Atlanta contingent at the meeting, which included Georgia Gov. Joe Frank Harris, expressed confidence that the facility will be completed by August 1992, as scheduled.
In addition to voting on the Super Bowl--the only item on the agenda for the two days requiring immediate action--the owners discussed the issue of corporate ownership of franchises and heard a report from the Management Council's executive committee on the prospect of reaching a collective bargaining agreement with the players.
The corporate ownership issue was highlighted recently by a report in Forbes magazine outlining a 1986 ownership transfer of the San Francisco 49ers from Eddie DeBartolo Jr. to his father's real estate firm, in apparent violation of NFL bylaws.
Tagliabue said Wednesday that four NFL franchises--San Francisco, Houston, Washington and Minnesota--have what he called "nonconforming" ownership structures, but added: "I'm not sure anybody is in violation of any league policy. There have been situations that have been grandfathered over the years."
On the labor relations front, the Management Council's executive committee told the owners that the council is prepared to negotiate with the players, but is in a holding pattern because of the NFL Players Assn.'s claim that it is decertified as a union.