Inside Atlanta’s Super Bowl bid: NFL sought, got a lot


Atlanta’s bid committee agreed to a lengthy and pricey list of NFL requirements — and tacked on a few other things the league didn’t request — in securing the 2019 Super Bowl for the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained hundreds of pages of bid documents that provide a rare window into the complex and costly competition to host the nation’s biggest sporting event. Atlanta was named the site of the February 2019 game in a vote by NFL owners late last month.

The documents, obtained through an open-records request, demonstrate the NFL’s aggressive demands for potential Super Bowl host cities and the league’s expectation that the cities will comply to get the game. For Super Bowl LIII here, public and private money will be used to provide the following, and much more, to the NFL at no charge:

  • Hotel rooms for eight nights for each participating team, including 150 standard rooms, two “Presidential” suites and five other suites.
  • Rent-free use of Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the game and of other venues for ancillary events.
  • Assignment of 10 security officers to each team hotel during the day and five during the night, as well as police escorts for the team owners to and from the game.
  • Approximately 10,000 parking spaces for game-day use, with the NFL retaining the parking revenue.
  • A wide range of lesser items, such as installing up to 2,000 banners on street poles and setting up a “social media monitoring and response center.”

 

Those were among many NFL “specifications” sought from all cities bidding to host the Super Bowl and accepted in the Atlanta bid.

Another key requirement, also accepted in the Atlanta bid, was that the league will retain all revenue from ticket sales. Even the host committee will have to buy its tickets — up to 750 of them — at face value.

In addition to meeting almost all of the league’s specifications, occasionally with slight revisions, Atlanta’s bid added a short list of “enhancements” — sweeteners intended to make the bid stand out from others.

The enhancements included a $2 million contribution for use toward certain NFL expenses related to the game; a possible $1 million contribution to “complement” state and city efforts in the event of inclement weather; a party for 2,000 media members at a cost of $375,000; and a pledge to provide NFL owners with “VIP private airport accommodations.”

The total value of the Atlanta bid, as previously reported, is $46 million.

Of that amount, $20 million will come from donations that have been pledged by two dozen Atlanta businesses and $16 million from a portion of the Atlanta hotel-motel tax that is designated for major events. The other $10 million is the estimated value to the NFL of a sales-tax exemption on Super Bowl tickets passed by the Georgia Legislature this year.

In addition to the sales-tax exemption, Atlanta’s bid agreed to an NFL requirement that the host committee reimburse the league and its teams for any other state or local taxes they pay in connection with the Super Bowl here. The bid estimates that reimbursement will total $2 million.

Among the documents obtained by the AJC are an outline and an early draft of remarks prepared for presentation to the NFL owners by the co-chairmen of the Atlanta bid committee, Equifax CEO Rick Smith and United Distributors CEO Doug Hertz. They addressed the owners behind closed doors May 24.

According to their prepared remarks, they spoke about the financial backing the “fully funded” bid had received from the city, state and businesses; the public funding of three Falcons stadiums over the past half-century, including the new stadium slated to open next year; and the close proximity of various downtown attractions and hotels to the stadium.

About 90 minutes after the presentation, the owners voted by secret ballots. Miami and Tampa were eliminated on the second ballot, leaving Atlanta vs. New Orleans for the 2019 Super Bowl. After neither got the required 75 percent on the third ballot, Atlanta prevailed by a simple majority on the fourth. The vote count wasn’t disclosed, an effort to minimize hard feelings among owners.

The Atlanta committee, which includes representatives of the Atlanta Sports Council, the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority and the Falcons, has said the effort and expense behind the bid are more than justified by the economic benefits of hosting the Super Bowl.

“There’s probably not any single event that has the economic impact on a city or on a region as the Super Bowl does,” Hertz said.

While the owners have tended in the past decade to award Super Bowls to new stadiums — all five NFL stadiums that have opened since 2006 have hosted the big game — the league pushes cities throughout the bid process to make their best proposals in a competitive environment. That was evident in the Atlanta bid documents.

The bid covered a wide range of issues, including public safety, security, transportation, stadium operations, insurance, decor, promotion, hotel commitments, practice sites, ancillary events, parking and even 16 pages on winter-weather preparations.

“Both the City and State have made substantial investments over the past few years in emergency preparedness, winter response coordination and road-treatment capabilities,” the bid documents state. The 2000 Super Bowl here was marred by an ice storm.

The bid that landed the 2019 game proposes Centennial Olympic Park as the site of “Super Bowl Village,” potentially featuring concerts, fireworks and “as the main attraction hot air balloon rides on Super Bowl branded tethered balloons.” The bid proposes the Georgia World Congress Center as the site of the “NFL Experience,” an indoor interactive theme park.

The documents show the seating capacity of Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the Super Bowl will be 75,324, including nine rows of temporary seats added at the top of the upper bowl along the sidelines and behind one end zone.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Atlanta Falcons

Falcons release official depth chart for Saints’ game 
Falcons release official depth chart for Saints’ game 

With Andy Levitre out for the season, Wes Schweitzer isprovi the proverbial next man up at left guard for the Falcons. Schweitzer lost the starting right guard battled to Brandon Fusco and was the backup swing guard. Levitre was placed on injured reserve with a torn tricep on Tuesday.  Schweitzer started all 18 games last season, but received...
Film Review report card: Falcons 31, Panthers 24
Film Review report card: Falcons 31, Panthers 24

Here are the grades, after reviewing the film on gamepass.nfl.com, for the Falcons from their 31-24 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Run offense: Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith proved to be a lethal combination. Things started slowly with Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly shutting things down. The Falcons kept...
Another injury: Falcons guard Levitre out for season 
Another injury: Falcons guard Levitre out for season 

Another injured starter. Falcons starting left guard Andy Levitre suffered a triceps injury and was placed on injured reserve for the season on Tuesday, the team announced. “Andy worked extremely hard to get back on the field after a similar injury last year, and there is no doubt his leadership will continue to be felt this year,” Falcons...
Ridley dazzled in second NFL game 
Ridley dazzled in second NFL game 

Falcons rookie wide receiver Calvin Ridley earned his first NFL touchdown Sunday on quite the precise play. The crafty route runner, lining up at the Carolina 11, faked like he was going outside. Then he took off back to the inside. Carolina rookie cornerback Donte Jackson was left in Ridley’s wake. Ridley hauled in the pass at the 3-yard line...
Falcons’ defensive end Takk McKinley has groin injury 
Falcons’ defensive end Takk McKinley has groin injury 

Falcons defensive end Takkarist McKinley suffered a groin injury late in the 31-24 victory over the Panthers on Sunday, according to head coach Dan Quinn on Monday. Quinn said that he’d update McKinley, defensive end Derrick Shelby (groin) and left guard Andy Levitre (left elbow when he releases the Wednesday injury report, per league rules. ...
More Stories