Where has the time gone?! We’re already eight weeks into the NFL regular season. Our favorite teams are working their way toward a potential trip to Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta by playing their hearts out every week. (Well, some teams are. Some are clearly not Super Bowl contenders, but you know what we’re saying.)
But while we’re watching football on the couch every Thursday, Sunday, and Monday, the host city has been undergoing massive efforts to plan and ready the capital for the big game and the thousands of fans, tourists, and media who will descend upon ATL in February. So with less than 100 days left until Super Bowl 53, is Atlanta prepared?
The Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee has spent over two years preparing the city for this gigantic undertaking. Following the bidding process and contract negotiations (spoiler: the NFL gets everything they want), this specially selected team has worked together with businesses, organizations, and governments all over Atlanta, the state of Georgia, and beyond to get ready.
According to recent news, Host Committee Chairman of Operations Brett Daniels says, “The collaboration is unbelievable. Every different scenario has been factored in. Everything you can imagine has been thought of.”
Sooo… like a repeat of the freak ice storm of 2000? You bet they’ve considered it. They’re prepping for every possible unknown.
They’ve also finally announced the first road closures people will need to navigate around the city. Get ready for downtown to look a little different without all those cars! For 10 days during Super Bowl week, all of Andrew Young International Boulevard through the Georgia World Congress Center Campus will be closed to traffic. On Saturday and Sunday, Northside Drive will be closed between Ivan Allen Jr. and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevards. They’ll also shut down MLK and Mitchell Streets from Northside Drive to Centennial Olympic Park Drive.
Don’t forget about MARTA. This is the way you should be getting around town. The Host Committee is expecting a surge of usage of the city’s sprawling and efficient public transportation network. MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker says it’s likely to be the highest ridership they’ve ever seen. Scratch that. That any Super Bowl has ever seen! Whoa. And they’ve done a lot of work to the system to make sure it’s running like a well-oiled machine.
MARTA knows they their work cut out for them. After delays and crowd control problems arose in January at the NCAA College Football National Championship, they’ve learned what they need to avoid those issues again. That includes more adequate staffing, clear communication to riders, and better crowd management at platforms. Through discussions, tabletop exercises, and simulations, they’ve figured out how to deal with scenarios like bad weather, protests, station overcrowding, and service delays.
In May, MARTA held a job fair to hire 40 more police officers to make transit safer. Officers will have special uniforms to make them more visible. Police will monitor 15,000 cameras covering the city’s transit systems to weed out any fishy behavior. There will also be bomb-sniffing dogs on hand.
In terms of addressing capacity issues, MARTA will have more cars and buses running with more frequency. They’re going to have “load and go” teams out on platforms to get passengers aboard quickly and prevent overcrowding. Transit Ambassadors will also be on site to help those visitors who are unfamiliar with the system and getting around Atlanta.
Police & Safety
What about the safety of fans? Atlanta’s got that covered too. Police chief Erika Shields says the city has a huge public safety plan, most of which is a secret for now. It includes a large police presence during Super Bowl festivities and the days leading up to the big game, especially around the Georgia World Congress Center Campus. As Sunday approaches, that security perimeter will expand.
Shields says, “We are in a good space. We are on point where we should be.” She also explains that having such a diverse team at their disposal will help them better anticipate the city’s needs and get ready for any curveballs thrown their way.
Need tickets to the Super Bowl in Atlanta. We’ve got ’em. Shop Fan.
Hundreds of federal, state, and local government leaders have been working together to make sure everything goes down smoothly and safely.
Anyway, the NFL is feeling good about things too. They believe Atlanta and the Host Committee have this business under control. Jon Barker, VP of Event Operations for the NFL, says, “Yeah, confidence level is extraordinarily high for this Super Bowl.”
A lot goes into planning for an event of this magnitude. After years of readying the city, you can bet they’re not just gonna wing it when the time comes. So no, they can’t control stuff like the weather, but you can bet they’ve prepped for it.