Inside Atlanta’s Super Bowl bid: NFL sought, got a lot

THE COST OF HOSTING SUPER BOWL LIII

The Atlanta bid committee estimates the local cost of hosting the 2019 Super Bowl at $46 million. Here’s the complete local budget:

Host Committee

Administrative and overhead costs: $1.5 million

Estimated taxes (reimbursement) other than game tickets: $2 million

Clean zone (anti-ambush marketing): $30,000

Permitting and licensing fees: $50,000

Volunteer program: $1.2 million

Temporary merchandise locations: $20,000

Decor program: $158,000

Local business initiative (Business Connect): $10,000

Social media (purchase of URL and domain names): $500

Social media monitoring and response center: $50,000

Charitable donation grant (legacy program): $1 million

Winter weather services and equipment: $1 million

Hospitality events: $275,000

Venue (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)

Staffing and event services: $5,425,000

Stadium cleaning (pregame, game, postgame): $135,000

Electrical/utilities: $330,000

Communications services: $505,000

Television/broadcast signal distribution: $100,000

Stadium field conditions/field prep and painting: $30,000

Signage and advertising: $100,000

Security perimeter: $100,000

Entertainment staging area (halftime-show rehearsals): $10,000

Novelty and program storage: $25,000

Parking: $1,548,355

International and domestic broadcast booths: $600,000

Media work area: $205,000

Ticketing

Host committee tickets: $981,250

Hotels

Team hotels; $1,138,830

Practice sites

Facilities: $31,650

Privacy and decor: $13,000

Internet, wiring and communications: $2,000

Transportation

Transportation operations: $1 million

Traffic management plan: $836,754

Public information/outreach: $10,000

Variable message signs: $58,750

Team buses: $384,000

Permitting: courtesy car and shuttle licensing: $5,000

Ancillary events and venues*

NFL Experience: $4,240,417

Super Bowl Village/Boulevard: $2,421,500

NFL Honors: $761,500

NFL House: $260,500

NFL Tailgate: $515,900

NFL Friday Night Party: $199,800

NFL On Location (primary): $386,350

NFL On Location (secondary): $200,000

Fans First! Rally: $30,160

Media Night: $337,500

Media Center: $668,375

NFL Accreditation Centers (main): $204,400

NFL Accredication Centers (satellite): $105,153

Game Day Staff Check-in: $124,560

Additional venues

Golf courses, bowling lanes: $175,000

Enhancements

Media entertainment party: $375,000

Contribution to NFL expenses: $2 million

Ancillary event contingency: $250,000

Insurance

Host committee: $85,000

Venue: $15,000

Event cancellation: $90,000

Contingency

Overall 5 percent contingency fund: $1,715,710

TOTAL: $36,029,914

PLUS: estimated $10 million from a sales-tax exemption on game tickets

TOTAL INCLUDING VALUE OF SALES TAX EXEMPTION: $46,029,914

* The figures for ancillary events include venue, power/utilities, parking, storage, janitorial, staff and medical.

Atlanta’s bid committee agreed to a lengthy and pricey list of NFL requirements — and tacked on a few other things the league didn’t request — in securing the 2019 Super Bowl for the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained hundreds of pages of bid documents that provide a rare window into the complex and costly competition to host the nation’s biggest sporting event. Atlanta was named the site of the February 2019 game in a vote by NFL owners late last month.

The documents, obtained through an open-records request, demonstrate the NFL’s aggressive demands for potential Super Bowl host cities and the league’s expectation that the cities will comply to get the game. For Super Bowl LIII here, public and private money will be used to provide the following, and much more, to the NFL at no charge:

  • Hotel rooms for eight nights for each participating team, including 150 standard rooms, two "Presidential" suites and five other suites.
  • Rent-free use of Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the game and of other venues for ancillary events.
  • Assignment of 10 security officers to each team hotel during the day and five during the night, as well as police escorts for the team owners to and from the game.
  • Approximately 10,000 parking spaces for game-day use, with the NFL retaining the parking revenue.
  • A wide range of lesser items, such as installing up to 2,000 banners on street poles and setting up a "social media monitoring and response center."

Those were among many NFL “specifications” sought from all cities bidding to host the Super Bowl and accepted in the Atlanta bid.

Another key requirement, also accepted in the Atlanta bid, was that the league will retain all revenue from ticket sales. Even the host committee will have to buy its tickets — up to 750 of them — at face value.

In addition to meeting almost all of the league’s specifications, occasionally with slight revisions, Atlanta’s bid added a short list of “enhancements” — sweeteners intended to make the bid stand out from others.

The enhancements included a $2 million contribution for use toward certain NFL expenses related to the game; a possible $1 million contribution to “complement” state and city efforts in the event of inclement weather; a party for 2,000 media members at a cost of $375,000; and a pledge to provide NFL owners with “VIP private airport accommodations.”

The total value of the Atlanta bid, as previously reported, is $46 million.

Of that amount, $20 million will come from donations that have been pledged by two dozen Atlanta businesses and $16 million from a portion of the Atlanta hotel-motel tax that is designated for major events. The other $10 million is the estimated value to the NFL of a sales-tax exemption on Super Bowl tickets passed by the Georgia Legislature this year.

In addition to the sales-tax exemption, Atlanta’s bid agreed to an NFL requirement that the host committee reimburse the league and its teams for any other state or local taxes they pay in connection with the Super Bowl here. The bid estimates that reimbursement will total $2 million.

Among the documents obtained by the AJC are an outline and an early draft of remarks prepared for presentation to the NFL owners by the co-chairmen of the Atlanta bid committee, Equifax CEO Rick Smith and United Distributors CEO Doug Hertz. They addressed the owners behind closed doors May 24.

According to their prepared remarks, they spoke about the financial backing the “fully funded” bid had received from the city, state and businesses; the public funding of three Falcons stadiums over the past half-century, including the new stadium slated to open next year; and the close proximity of various downtown attractions and hotels to the stadium.

About 90 minutes after the presentation, the owners voted by secret ballots. Miami and Tampa were eliminated on the second ballot, leaving Atlanta vs. New Orleans for the 2019 Super Bowl. After neither got the required 75 percent on the third ballot, Atlanta prevailed by a simple majority on the fourth. The vote count wasn’t disclosed, an effort to minimize hard feelings among owners.

The Atlanta committee, which includes representatives of the Atlanta Sports Council, the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority and the Falcons, has said the effort and expense behind the bid are more than justified by the economic benefits of hosting the Super Bowl.

“There’s probably not any single event that has the economic impact on a city or on a region as the Super Bowl does,” Hertz said.

While the owners have tended in the past decade to award Super Bowls to new stadiums — all five NFL stadiums that have opened since 2006 have hosted the big game — the league pushes cities throughout the bid process to make their best proposals in a competitive environment. That was evident in the Atlanta bid documents.

The bid covered a wide range of issues, including public safety, security, transportation, stadium operations, insurance, decor, promotion, hotel commitments, practice sites, ancillary events, parking and even 16 pages on winter-weather preparations.

“Both the City and State have made substantial investments over the past few years in emergency preparedness, winter response coordination and road-treatment capabilities,” the bid documents state. The 2000 Super Bowl here was marred by an ice storm.

The bid that landed the 2019 game proposes Centennial Olympic Park as the site of “Super Bowl Village,” potentially featuring concerts, fireworks and “as the main attraction hot air balloon rides on Super Bowl branded tethered balloons.” The bid proposes the Georgia World Congress Center as the site of the “NFL Experience,” an indoor interactive theme park.

The documents show the seating capacity of Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the Super Bowl will be 75,324, including nine rows of temporary seats added at the top of the upper bowl along the sidelines and behind one end zone.

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