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All About Atlanta’s Bid to Host the Super Bowl

Atlanta beat out Miami, New Orleans, and Tampa for the privilege of hosting the 2019 Super Bowl. But what exactly does this “privilege” entail? What are the NFL’s demands? What sort of stuff did Atlanta agree to? And did that shiny new stadium have something to do with it? (Spoiler: Of course it did!) Here’s what we know…

Back in 2016, NFL owners voted by secret ballot to decide the winner. Tampa and Miami were eliminated first, and after a fourth round of voting, Atlanta was chosen as the winner. (They don’t disclose voting numbers, ya know, to avoid hurting any feelings.) The final decision was announced in May 2016 and Atlanta almost immediately started prepping for the big day.

The city was hoping for the 2019 Super Bowl because this is the first year that ATL is eligible to host with its new stadium. NFL rules state that a stadium must be open and running for two regular seasons before it can host a Super Bowl – we’re assuming that’s to work out any kinks or infrastructural flaws just in case. (FYI, this rule has actually been waived for the new LA stadium and they’ve been allowed to bid for 2020.)

It seems the NFL has a thing for new stadiums. We’ve seen five new ones open across the US since 2006… and all of them have hosted a Super Bowl.*

According to Falcons owner, Arthur Blank, “Atlanta has truly transformed since it last hosted the Super Bowl in 2000 and I’m grateful to the NFL and team owners for this very special opportunity.”

Accordingly, the theme of Atlanta’s bid for the Super Bowl was “Atlanta Transformed.” It focused on all the new infrastructure in the city since the last time they hosted – the stadium, the downtown area, and its hotels, attractions, and walkability. NFL officials toured the city, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and the supporting venues to make sure they liked the lay of the land.

Downtown is for fans. 🙌🔥⚽️#ATLUTD #BeDowntown

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Okay, so what was on the must-have list for the NFL? What exactly did the Atlanta Super Bowl bid include? And what has the city agreed to? The NFL has some big asks and large demands when it comes to their prized Super Bowl. The estimated total cost of everything included in Atlanta’s Super Bowl bid was $46 million. No biggie, right? Here’s what the NFL gets:

  • Free use of hotel rooms for NFL teams for eight nights. That’s 150 standard rooms, 5 suites, and 2 presidential suites.
  • Rent-free use of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the game and other venues for Super Bowl events
  • All revenue from Super Bowl ticket sales. All. of. it. (Even the host committee has to pay for its own tickets at face value, an estimated cost of $981,250.) And the tickets have to be exempt from sales tax (so that’s about $10 million in tax revenue that Georgia won’t be seeing).
  • 10 security officers for each team hotel during the daytime and 5 during the night.
  • Police escorts to and from the game for team owners.
  • 10,000 parking spots for game day and the NFL gets to keep the revenue.
  • Lots of other “small” things, like 2,000 banners installed on the street and a “social media monitoring and response center” fo’ free of course.

And those are just the standard items requested from all the hopeful bidding cities. Hey, the NFL is known for being aggressive and cities are known for capitulating to their demands to win the game.

Atlanta accepted all of these standard “specifications” and then threw in some enhancements of its own to sweeten the deal (ie, to beat out Miami, Tampa, and New Orleans). Here are a few things we know about:

  • Atlanta offered up a possible $1 million to help state and city efforts if there’s any inclement weather. Remember the ice storm of the last ATL Super Bowl? Looks like they didn’t want that to impact the NFL’s decision.
  • They’re giving the NFL a $2 million contribution toward expenses for the game.
  • A party worth $375,000 for around 2,000 members of the media
  • A promise to make sure NFL owners get “VIP private airport accommodations,” and
  • Reimbursement for any state or local taxes the NFL pays in connection with the Super Bowl (about $2 million).

Public and private money from around ATL will pay these costs. Local businesses have pledged about $20 million already and the rest will come from a hotel tax that Atlanta imposes on big events.

The Atlanta Host Committee says all of the expense and work is totally worth it though. The way they see it, the economic benefits of hosting a Super Bowl in Atlanta are huge. Perhaps greater than any other single event in the city or region. So they’ve promised big to win it and they’ll keep working hard to make sure it goes smoothly.

The city and the Super Bowl Host Committee will be taking care of everything in the realm of transportation, public safety, insurance, decor, hotels, promotion, Super Bowl-related events, practice locations, winter weather preparations, and stadium operations. They plan on making Centennial Park into “Super Bowl Village” where they’ll host concerts and firework displays… and maybe even hot air balloon rides (with branded balloons, of course).

*And finally, a fun fact: It seems the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium is having a lot of luck when it comes to hosting these days. It was the site of the 2018 College Football Championship and it’s got the Final Four locked down for 2020.