It took two years of preparation, 10,000 volunteers and law enforcement from 40 different agencies, but Atlanta’s third Super Bowl has gone into history books minus any major hiccups.
On Monday, city officials didn’t bask in the gushing reviews pouring in from every corner. They just seemed relieved — and tired.
At a press conference on Monday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms was second only to the victorious New England Patriots in receiving congratulations from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“The week was spectacular,” Goodell said from the stage at the Georgia World Congress Center. “Everything went as planned. We were just thrilled, truly grateful for Southern hospitality.
Bottoms said it was a pleasure to host, but with the event finished, a burden had been lifted.
“We are grateful that it will not be here next year,” Bottoms said, laughing.
Two previous Super Bowls were held in Atlanta — in 1994 and 2000. Super Bowl 34 in 2000 was tarnished by an ice storm and an infamous murder hours after the game involving NFL star Ray Lewis. That crime helped shut down the Buckhead Party scene.
But Super Bowl 53 will be remembered for what occurred on the field, or maybe what didn’t.
“I thought we would have a better game,” said Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields on Monday of the low-scoring contest between the Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.
As for the city, there wasn’t much to criticize.
“The City of Atlanta put on one hell of a party all week long,” tweeted ESPN radio personality Trey Wingo on Monday. “Love a Super Bowl where everything is downtown and not spread out over 200 square miles.”
The man who became the only head coach in NFL history to win six championships praised the Georgia Tech facilities where the Patriots practiced and the Hyatt Hotel where they stayed. Coach Bill Belichick said he couldn’t say enough about the city and its volunteers.
“They were just incredible,” Belichick said.
Shields acknowledged the 60-degree weather that arrived on game weekend helped.
For the chief, the most significant moment of trepidation came on Saturday night when 100,000 people showed up for a free party at Centennial Olympic Park, Shields said. The park’s capacity is only 22,000.
“Whenever you have crowds like that you just hope that no one does anything really stupid,” Shields said.
Not many did. For the entire 10-day period of the Super Bowl and its festivities, there were four arrests outside the stadium and five arrests inside the stadium on Sunday.
On Monday morning, Bottoms exited the press conference with the NFL quickly. Then she went on Twitter to spread some of the credit around.
“Thank you Atlanta!” she wrote. “From our employees to our volunteers and residents, I am so very proud of ALL of US. We have once again shown the world that we are a wonderfully diverse city, full of great people and attractions.”
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