Copyright 2018 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
BLOOMINGTON, MINN.-- They haven't swept up all of the confetti here, but Atlanta is on the clock for Super Bowl LIII.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made the official handoff of the ceremonial football to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms at the Mall of America on Monday following Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
"We've known it's coming and we've been planning and preparing, but it really hit home today when you are standing up there with Commissioner Goodell and they hand that ball off," said Brett Daniels, chief operating officer of the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee. "We had the luxury in the past to say that we're after Houston or after Minnesota, but there is nobody we're after (now), it's us."
The next Super Bowl will be played Feb. 3, 2019 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Falcons owner Arthur Blank is confident that issues pertaining to the hypothetically retractable roof --which still doesn't open and close like it's supposed to and has leaked -- will be resolved by "late spring, early summer."
An Atlanta delegation of about 30 people received a day-long look at the inner workings of the Minnesota Super Bowl from NFL officials on Friday. They took a tour of several venues. They also were briefed to show the Atlantans what's headed to town and how the game has evolved and expanded since the city last hosted the Super Bowl in 2000.
"There is one thing that has not changed and will not change and that is the hospitality and charm of the people of Atlanta," Daniels said. "We look forward to (Super Bowl fans and guests) experiencing that."
While the bugs at the stadium are being worked out, the Atlanta infrastructure is already in place.
"What I keep hearing repeatedly is to make every day count," Lance Bottoms said. "At this point, we obviously can't afford to lose a day."
Daniels, a former Dallas Cowboys executive, knows Atlanta must match or surpass the sheer numbers and hospitality of the Minnesota volunteers. "We are definitely preparing for that," Daniels said. "All of our thoughts have gone into how do we manage that, how do we recruit it and train them so that we show them that Southern hospitality and charm that we have in Atlanta."
Atlanta hosted Super Bowl XXVIII in 1994 and Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000. Atlanta was awarded Super Bowl LIII on May 24, 2016. Super Bowl XXXIV is most remembered for the ice storm that hit the Friday before the game and shut down parts of the city.
Ice coated major roads throughout the region and caused massive pile-ups, including a 47-car wreck on I-20 west of Atlanta. Rain continued for much of the day Saturday as temperatures hovered near the freezing mark, forming a quarter-inch thick coating of ice on most surfaces.
"It will be us preparing for the worst, but expecting the best,"Daniels said. "We know that we'll be ready regardless of what happens. We'll be prepared for it, but we just hope that we'll have those beautiful 50-and 60-degree days."
The Atlanta Super Bowl will be centrally located around the new stadium, the Georgia World Congress Center and Centennial Park.
"(It's) one of the unique things about Atlanta and what makes it such a great city for hosting any major event," Daniels said. "With that downtown core we have all of the facilities in place with the stadium, Georgia World Congress Center, Philips Arena and Centennial Park and then it's surrounded by all of those major hotels. I think our city sets up incredibly well for this event."
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