Mercedes-Benz Stadium will host the Super Bowl in February 2019 and the NCAA men’s Final Four in April 2020.
Photo: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Photo: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Road to Super Bowl LIII: Local organizers juggle big events

After three long days of Super Bowl meetings this week, several host committee staffers briefly turned their attention to another big event headed this way: college basketball’s Final Four in April 2020. 

The local organizers’ juggling of responsibilities was evident Thursday, when they wrapped up intensive meetings with NFL officials in Atlanta and joined NCAA officials for a ceremony unveiling the 2020 Final Four logo at a local Boys & Girls Club. 

“We spent the last three days, about 14-hour days, doing our final planning for the Super Bowl,” Carl Adkins, executive director of the host committees for both events, said at the Final Four ceremony. “But we’re ready to roll into this one.” 

Adkins said the host committee’s Super Bowl planning is “down to details” as the countdown continues toward the Feb. 3 game.

The  NFL won’t send its full contingent of Super Bowl staffers, consultants and contractors back to Atlanta until January, when the league will start making minor temporary modifications to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the game, including building additional broadcast booths for international networks and erecting an expanded security perimeter around the stadium complex. 

Meanwhile, stadium officials work daily on Super Bowl-related issues. 

“We are in the everyday push right now,” said Steve Cannon, CEO of Falcons parent company AMB Group, which also operates the stadium. “It’s a heavy lift. Super Bowls have gotten so big and so complex that it takes literally a city to pull these things off. 

“We feel good about where we are right now in terms of our planning,” Cannon said, “and the NFL feels good about where we are.” 

Following the Super Bowl, 10 of the host committee’s 25 staffers will remain on board to prepare for the Final Four at Mercedes-Benz Stadium 14 months later, Adkins said. 

Duke athletic director Kevin White, the 2020 chairman of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball committee, said at the logo unveiling ceremony that he expects the Final Four here to be “every bit as special as the college football championship (game) less than a year ago and the upcoming Super Bowl.” 

The Super Bowl will be the third held in Atlanta (the others were in 1994 and 2000 at the Georgia Dome), while the men’s Final Four will be the fifth here (the others were in 1977 at the Omni and 2002, 2007 and 2013 at the Georgia Dome). Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president of basketball, said Atlanta will join Indianapolis as the only cities to host the Final Four in three different venues.


> The Super Bowl will mark the fifth major pro or college sports championship decided in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, following two SEC Championship football games, the College Football Playoff championship game and the MLS Cup. The variety of big events, all nationally or globally televised, “debuts our city to new audiences all the time,” Cannon said.

> The host committee plans a news conference Wednesday to mark 53 days until the 53rd Super Bowl. More details about Super Bowl Live, the six-day series of free concerts and other entertainment in Centennial Olympic Park, will be announced, Adkins said. 

> Ticket reseller StubHub released its annual “Year in Live Experiences” report this week, showing that Super Bowl LII between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots in Minneapolis was its best-selling U.S. sports event of the year. The second-best seller was college football’s national championship game between Alabama and Georgia in Atlanta. 

> The NFL announced that Georgia Tech will host a competition on Super Bowl eve, Feb. 2, around how to spur innovation in player health, safety and performance. One part of the fourth annual “1st and Future” Super Bowl competition seeks recommendations about rule changes to reduce injuries during punt plays. The second part is for “innovative product concepts” that could improve player health and safety. For more information, go to

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Catch up on past editions of the AJC’s weekly “Road to  Super Bowl LIII” notebook:

CBS gets “small dress rehearsal” in Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Host committee sees work to do but ‘no red flags’

NFL likes downtown Atlanta’s layout for Super Bowl events 

Midseason picks to reach Atlanta 

Broadcasts, security will require changes in and around Mercedes-Benz Stadium

NFL adopts $2 hot dogs for the big game

> Large NFL delegation in Atlanta for planning

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