Aug. 23 will live on as a monumental day in Atlanta’s history of college sports. That’s the day the College Football Hall of Fame opened and affirmed the region as a centerpiece of college football.
Atlanta opened more than a new building, though. We opened ourselves to the past and the game’s greats who made the sport special. The Hall parallels everything we love about college football – past players, rivalries and legendary coaches – with new-age technological advancements.
Atlanta also added a phenomenal downtown attraction, opening shortly after the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, to join the World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium and others. Downtown Atlanta continues to grow and become more of a destination.
The sports attraction is unlike others. Designers created a first-class, state-of-the-art building that has the ability to swap out displays and artifacts faster than a kick-off return. The uniqueness means it will always have that new feel and offer a reason to visit.
The Hall expects a half-million annual visitors to view 768 football helmets lining the wall, watch a game-day movie, walk on a 45-yard football field, see 520-plus artifacts and become immersed in some of the game’s greatest and most bitter rivalries.
While the Hall celebrates the game and those who have made it special, it also offers a unique hospitality component. When the Atlanta Sports Council and other city leaders recruit future business, this gem of a building will certainly be on the list of potential venues.
An example of that recently occurred when NCAA officials were in town for a site visit in conjunction with the 2018-20 Men’s Final Four bid. We took them through the Hall; they were amazed at the building and felt it could be used for hospitality events if we are awarded a future Final Four. This is something none of our competitors can offer.
Atlanta will submit bids to potentially host a future Super Bowl and College Football Championship game. We know the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl will host four national, semi-final, college football playoff games over the next 12 years, which would bring hundreds of thousands of fans to Atlanta.
This season, metro Atlanta will host numerous football match-ups, whether it’s the annual ones — Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, Atlanta Football Classic, SEC Championship and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl — or local teams — the Falcons, Georgia State and Georgia Tech. It’s a good bet fans in town might sneak in a visit to the newest attraction. There’s an obvious economic impact to sporting events in Atlanta, and the Hall is indirectly tied to that.
Dan Corso, executive director of the Atlanta Sports Council, is senior vice president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber.