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The CRE of Super Bowl LIII: the Spotlight is on Atlanta

Julia Woodward
Julia Woodward
Content Marketing Associate, VTS

The city of Atlanta is in the spotlight as it prepares to host Super Bowl LIII on February 3 at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium — the first Super Bowl hosted at the stadium, but the third time it's played in Atlanta. It will host the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams.

The city is in full game day prep mode, and is hosting visitors for pre-game events that started days in advance of the big game. Officials have been preparing for the gigantic event since the May 2016 announcement that Atlanta will be the host city. The Super Bowl is expected to generate $400 million in new spending for Atlanta.

A comparison: 2000 and today

The first time Atlanta hosted a Super Bowl was in 1994 in the now-razed Georgia Dome. That facility was replaced by the sleek, high-tech Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which opened in 2017. The stadium features larger seats, a retractable roof, one of the largest video screens, and almost 42x more beer taps than the Georgia Dome.

After its 2000 Super Bowl events, Atlanta gained a questionable reputation. After the game, Baltimore Ravens player Ray Lewis was involved in deadly brawl in Buckhead.The incident played a direct role in the closure of a lot of the bars in that area and the start of high-end development. Since then, city and community leaders have worked to transform the Buckhead area and tame the party scene.

Also in 2000, a severe ice storm struck the metro area a week before the Super Bowl and again two days before the event. It left 500,000 homes without power and caused severe car accidents and transportation problems. The storms really dampened Super Bowl festivities and the city was a ghost town the night before the big game.

Fast forward to 2019, and a transformation has taken place in downtown Atlanta. The Buckhead area has been revitalized and the new stadium is in the heart of various downtown attractions and hotels. Even rooms at the Motel 6 near the stadium were reportedly fetching more than $1,000 per night.

City to show off its CRE during Super Bowl

Atlanta gets to showcase its venues and development before an international audience. Not only will eyes be on them for the big game, but the city will be the center of attention throughout the celebratory events that lead up to February 3.

Before Super Bowl LIII kicks off, visitors and residents will be participating in:

  • Super Bowl Experience: a nine day indoor football theme park hosted in the Georgia World Congress Center.
  • Super Bowl Live: a six day series of free concerts hosted in Centennial Olympic Park.
  • Super Bowl Opening Night: a kickoff and welcome event hosted in State Farm Arena.
  • the first Super Bowl Music Fest: a brand new concert on the three nights before the game and also hosted in State Farm Arena.

While these events aren't all brand new, Atlanta's downtown development presents a unique opportunity for all of these events to happen in a central area. In past years, these major lead-up events were scattered within the host city — or weren't even held in the host city.

  • For last year's Super Bowl in Minneapolis, Super Bowl Opening Night was hosted in the neighboring city of St. Paul.
  • The 2016 Super Bowl has hosted by Santa Clara in California, and many of the lead-up events were done in San Francisco.
  • The 2015 Super Bowl had some build up events in Phoenix while the game was played in Glendale in Arizona.

Atlanta's collection of venues in the downtown area is much more convenient for attendees — and for the businesses nearby.

“What’s really exciting about Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta is … the confinement of this campus. To be able to have the stadium, Super Bowl Experience, Opening Night and Super Bowl Live all together in one epicenter is unusual for us. It (would be) a tremendous asset to any Super Bowl. … It puts us in a really unique spot to plan and execute a very successful event" —Jon Barker, NFL vice president of event operations and production in an AJC article.

Other downtown CRE changes since 2000

Atlanta has only become bigger and bolder since their last Super Bowl. First, of course, is the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. This will be the first Super Bowl hosted at the new stadium. Centennial Olympic Park has also undergone renovations to add more green space, which will allow even more Super Bowl attendees to participate in the six days of free concerts and draw more business to downtown.

The city has also added plenty of hotel rooms, increasing the count to about 93,000 in total reports AJC.

Yet, since 2000, there's also been a slight downturn in Atlanta's retail offering. Macy's closed several of their locations in the city in 2003, and was followed by J.C. Penny, Kmart, Lord & Taylor, and more. Those who are more optimistic see the renovations of Ponce City Market and Atlantic Station as a sign that retail isn't completely down and out.

And after Super Bowl LIII?

CIM Group also plans to revitalize the Gulch — an area of asphalt near the stadium. It has plans for a $5 billion mixed-use project that is expected to include nine million square feet of office, one million square feet of retail, and hundreds of hotel rooms and apartments.

Unlike in 2000, the Mercedes-Benz stadium won't stay dark until next season. Just next month, in March, the stadium will be filled with fans again — this time cheering on Atlanta United, Atlanta's championship winning Major League Soccer team. In its first season at the stadium, the team shattered attendance records and filled the arena with its fans.

Julia Woodward
Content Marketing Associate | VTS
Julia Woodward
Julia Woodward is a Content Marketing Associate at VTS.
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