Road to Super Bowl LIII: NFL welcomes $2 hot dogs for big game

An NFL executive laughed when asked in Atlanta on Friday if he could recall the last time hot dogs cost $2 at a Super Bowl.

“I will have to look back at that one,” said Jon Barker, the NFL’s vice president of event operations and production.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s much-publicized food-and-beverage prices, including $2 for hot dogs, refillable soft drinks and popcorn, will remain in place for Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3.

That may cause a reverse form of sticker shock at a generally high-priced event where game tickets can cost thousands of dollars.

“I visited the Minnesota Super Bowl last season, and I said, ‘One thing is for certain: The temperatures in Atlanta will be higher, and the food prices will be lower,’” Steve Cannon, CEO of Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s group of businesses, said Friday during panel discussions at Mercedes-Benz Stadium about Super Bowl preparations.

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Stadium officials have said they stipulated in Atlanta’s Super Bowl contract that concession prices would remain the same as at Falcons games and other stadium events.

“After meeting with the Blank (organization) and the Falcons about bringing that street pricing into the Super Bowl, it was an easy decision,” Barker said. “It was an easy yes.”

NFL ‘would love’ open roof

With Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s retractable roof finally operating as designed, the NFL remains interested in playing Super Bowl LIII with the roof open.

“It is very much dependent on the weather,” Barker said. “It also is dependent on some of the work we need to do for halftime and some of the other things we need to do inside the stadium. There is going to be rigging (of heavy loads) from the roof, so it’s looking at the technical challenges of being able to rig what we need to rig and being able to open the roof.

“Open-or-closed is going to change the dynamics of a few things – some of our halftime stuff, some of our pregame stuff. All of that will go into consideration, but … from an NFL standpoint we would love to see it open.”

Barker said the technical challenges won’t be as big a factor as the weather.

“It’ll probably be a game-day decision,” he said.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium general manager Scott Jenkins said the venue is preparing for whatever the NFL decides.

“We recently did pyrotechnics tests (with the roof) open and closed,” Jenkins said. “So we’re looking at all the options, and we’ll be ready for whatever they decide they want to do.”

As of Friday, Jenkins said the plan is to have the roof open for the Falcons’ game against the New York Giants on Monday night, weather permitting. If so, that would mark the Falcons’ second regular-season game this season – and second in a row – with the roof open. The plan as of Friday also called for the roof to be open for Atlanta United’s match Sunday afternoon against the Chicago Fire, weather permitting.

“We’re really pleased with the way it is operating,” Jenkins said of the roof. “It is as smooth as can be. A lot of people talked (last year and earlier this year) about what’s wrong with the roof. Well, it wasn’t done. ... It took time.”

Work on the eight-panel roof finally was completed in July, 11 months after the stadium hosted its first event.

Plans and preparations

Leaders of several Atlanta agencies provided updates on their Super Bowl plans and preparations during Friday’s panel discussions, held in a stadium club just off the field on which the big game will be played:

> Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields: “There is a level of planning that is going into this event unlike any other thing that this city has experienced. ... We have 37 subcommittees comprised of local, state and federal partners, and these folks meet and communicate regularly.”

> Jeffrey Parker, CEO and general manager of MARTA, said the transit system plans to run 24-hour service on Super Bowl weekend.

> John Selden, the new general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, said 1,800 volunteers will be stationed at the airport to assist arriving and departing Super Bowl guests.