All right my fellow Atlantans, get on your best behavior. The world is watching. We are the center of the entertainment universe as the Super Bowl has officially rolled into town.
I usually get most excited about the actual game. Halftime is when I walk around the party I’m at and say hello to everyone else gathered around the island in the kitchen and playing table shuffleboard in the basement. Or I take a quick glance at my sons and their friends playing football outside.
But this year is different. It’s different because the game is here. Our folks are hosting. The blimp shots will be of our Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The skyline shots will be of Atlanta. Major television broadcasts will be set up all over downtown.
Estimates on how many people will travel to the city are all over the place, but it seems like at least 125,000 people will come from out of town and need a place to stay. For fun I went on Hotels.com and tried to book a room for that Saturday and Sunday. The closest I could get to downtown Atlanta were some apartments north of the city that were renting for $1,388 a night. There was a Super 8 by Wyndham outside of Decatur for $299 a night. Hotels up here in Roswell and Alpharetta are mostly booked.
Sports economists have estimated $185 million in direct economic impact to the metro area. Others have estimated almost double that.
The party officially starts next Monday in State Farm Arena with Super Bowl Opening Night where fans can go and get autographs from Patriots and Rams players and get photos with mascots and cheerleaders. Throughout the week, there will be free concerts in Centennial Olympic Park. And for the three days leading up to the game, there will be concerts with stars such as Bruno Mars, Ludacris and Aerosmith at State Farm Arena.
Shaquille O’Neal is hosting a party at The Battery with national recording artists. Martina McBride is hosting a party at the Cobb Galleria Centre. There’s a “Leather & Laces” party with Victoria’s Secret Angels. Jamie Foxx has a party going on at The Fairmont, Sports Illustrated has one going on at The College Football Hall of Fame with Snoop Dogg and Lil Wayne, and Rolling Stone magazine has a party at the Goat Farm with top acts. DirectTV has a party at the High-End Entertainment Complex built just for the Super Bowl in Atlantic Station with the Foo Fighters performing. Guy Fieri is hosting an all-day tailgating party with some of the country’s best chefs. The amount of activity, and number of A-list celebrities that will be packed into Atlanta this one week is jaw-dropping.
While the immediate economic impact is around $185 million, the delayed impact could be much greater. Economic development professionals in Atlanta are expecting an effect similar to what the 1996 Olympics did for our city. Those Olympics put a spotlight on Atlanta and stamped it as an international, world-class city. After the Olympics, the city saw a mass of corporate relocations to the area and an explosion of in-town growth in the various entertainment and business districts. As such, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce President Hala Moddelmog and her team are planning to take full advantage of this opportunity. While all eyes are on the Super Bowl right now, they’ll be working tirelessly to make sure everyone sees a city they want to be a part of.
For them, this kicked off officially on January 22 when Arthur Blank and a host of Georgia officials rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Since then, the rush has been on to make sure every broadcast and every presentation of our city shows how awesome we really are. The city has exploded since the last time we hosted a Super Bowl 19 years ago. We’ve become a tech capital of the country, a film capital, a restaurant mecca, and an international center. Whereas 19 years ago we worked hard to promote the city, this year we’ll be working hard to show it off.
MARTA increased its staff by 40 people for this week and will be running 24 hours starting Thursday. So hop a train and go to town and soak up the Super Bowl glamour. And while you’re there, let everyone know how awesome Atlanta is!
Geoff Smith is a mortgage banker with Assurance Financial focusing on residential home loans for refinances and home purchases.
*The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Assurance Financial Group