“You go to get an idea of what the host city is doing in regard to decor and signage, transportation system, what types of venues they select for all the ancillary events and just the overall fan experience and perhaps even some programming around the stadium itself,” said Corso, one of three Sports Council staff members on the trip to San Francisco/Santa Clara.
The group’s itinerary for this weekend includes, in addition to the Carolina-Denver game, meetings with NFL officials and the Super Bowl 50 local host committee and behind-the-scenes tours of the stadium and ancillary events.
Atlanta has hosted the Super Bowl twice, in 1994 and 2000, both times in the Georgia Dome. The 2000 event was marred by an ice storm that doomed the city’s subsequent bids for the 2009 and 2010 Super Bowls. Those games were awarded to Tampa and Miami, respectively.
This time, Atlanta’s bid will emphasize Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Falcons’ new retractable-roof home under construction next to the 24-year-old Georgia Dome. NFL owners have a track record of overlooking weather concerns to put Super Bowls in new stadiums that are built with the help of taxpayer dollars.
Sunday’s game, for example, will be played in the San Francisco 49ers’ outdoor stadium that opened in 2014. The 2018 Super Bowl will be played in the Minnesota Vikings’ new indoor stadium, which opens this year. And within the past decade, the Super Bowl has been played in new stadiums in Detroit, Indianapolis and East Rutherford, N.J.
Hosting the Super Bowl has gotten increasingly expensive. The local host committee for last year’s game in Glendale, Ariz., had a budget of about $30 million.
In Atlanta, the host committee’s budget would come from two sources, Corso said: a portion of the city’s hotel-motel tax designated for such purposes and private corporate fundraising.
The Georgia Legislature and Atlanta City Council in 2011 raised the city’s hotel-motel tax from 7 percent to 8 percent, with the additional 1 percent earmarked for attracting major sports events (such as the Super Bowl and college basketball’s Final Four), conventions and other special events.
The corporate fundraising would be “much like every other bid city has done on the Super Bowl,” Corso said, including “hospitality packages and whatever you can create locally that provides value back to that contributing partner that the NFL will allow.”
In addition, Georgia lawmakers are expected to consider a measure that would waive the state sales tax on tickets for the Super Bowl.
Working with the Sports Council on the bid are representatives of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority and the Falcons.
By secret ballot at the league’s spring meetings, the 32 NFL owners are scheduled to choose two of the four bidders as Super Bowl sites: first one for 2019, then one of the remaining three for 2020.
The 2019 Super Bowl is the first that Mercedes-Benz Stadium is eligible to seek, based on NFL rules that in effect require a stadium to be open for two regular seasons before hosting the league’s marquee event. Both Santa Clara and Minneapolis got a Super Bowl the first year their stadiums were eligible.
Construction of Mercedes-Benz Stadium is scheduled to be completed by June 1, 2017, the target date having recently been pushed back from March 2017. Corso said he expects the Super Bowl bid to be "not at all" affected by that delay, echoing an earlier similar assessment by Falcons owner Arthur Blank.
Atlanta is the only city among the 2019 and 2020 bidders that will have a new stadium, although the Miami Dolphins’ Sun Life Stadium is in the midst of a $450 million makeover. South Florida bid committee chairman Rodney Barreto expressed optimism at a news conference last week that the massive renovations will help Miami land one of the available Super Bowls.
Miami and New Orleans have hosted 10 Super Bowls each, while Tampa has had four.
Barreto said Miami has “a very aggressive proposal put together” for this round of bidding but noted the process has become increasingly competitive and complex.
“That’s why we’re going out to San Francisco, really, to first-hand look and see and learn and understand,” Barreto said. “Back in the good old days, you’d be able to put together a bid that was really just a bunch of letters from politicians saying, ‘We welcome you to South Florida.’ And today, it is much more complicated, much more involved.”