01/16/2019 -- Atlanta, Georgia -- Tim Carl (second from left) of Advantage Graphics & Signs uses a torch to gaurantee the cohesiveness of the new Mercedes-Benz signage at the MARTA Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Center Transit in Atlanta, Wednesday, January 16, 2019. Advantage Graphics & Signs worked in the transit station on Wednesday to replace signage that mislabeled Atlanta's two newly named sport stadiums. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

MARTA spends big for new signs to guide Super Bowl fans

Of all the names that adorn the MARTA station where most Super Bowl fans are likely to get off, not one is likely to assure out-of-towners that they’re in the right place.

Officially, it’s the Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Center Station, a bewildering alphabet soup that — for all its letters — coveys no sense that this is where you get off for Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Indeed, you can’t find two of the four landmarks the station is named for, because they no longer exist.

Philips Arena became State Farm Arena last fall. The Georgia Dome imploded in 2017, replaced by Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Only the Georgia World Congress Center and CNN Center remain.

That MARTA hasn’t renamed the station more than a year later underscores the difficult local politics of something as simple as the name of a transit station.

For months the MARTA Board has been pummeled by some residents of Atlanta’s West End neighborhood, who are upset the agency renamed their station for civil rights icons last year. The new name: The Juanita Jones and Ralph David Abernathy at West End Station. The residents want the name switched back to just West End Station, in honor of their neighborhood.

Amid the controversy, the MARTA Board is revisiting its policies for naming stations. The new policy likely will ensure plenty of public input before a station name is changed.

But it could be months before the policy is finalized, and longer before the Dome Station (as it’s known, for short) gets a new name. In the meantime, the agency is adding new signs to guide passengers to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in time for the Super Bowl.

David Springstead, MARTA’s chief of rail operations, said the agency is spending more than $100,000 on new signs at various locations. Though some are temporary, most will be used long after the Super Bowl.

“We don’t want to spend a bunch of money on signs that will never be used again,” Springstead said.

The agency also is deploying more than 600 transit “ambassadors” to help football fans find their way to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the Super Bowl and related events.

For the record, there are two MARTA stations with easy access to the stadium. The other — Vine City Station — is named for an Atlanta neighborhood that still exists.

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