Road to Super Bowl LIII: Atlanta’s downtown cluster a perfect fit for NFL

Channel 2's Steve Gehlbach was at Centennial Olympic Park where the 6-day Super Bowl LIVE concert series will take place in the days leading up to the game.

As preparations continue for Super Bowl LIII, now 12 weeks away, NFL officials consider downtown Atlanta an unusually convenient canvas for the spectacle.

The Feb. 3, 2019, game and the major events leading to it will be held within short walking distance of one another – the game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Super Bowl Experience (a nine-day indoor football theme park) in the Georgia World Congress Center, Super Bowl Live (a six-day series of free concerts and other activities) in Centennial Olympic Park and Super Bowl Opening Night (formerly called Media Day) in State Farm Arena.

An addition to the lineup was announced this week: the first Super Bowl Music Fest, a ticketed event in State Farm Arena (formerly known as Philips Arena) on the three nights before the game.

» Follow: AJC's continuing coverage of Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta

“What’s really exciting about Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta is … the confinement of this campus,” Jon Barker, NFL vice president of event operations and production, said during a recent visit here. “To be able to have the stadium, Super Bowl Experience, Opening Night and Super Bowl Live all together in one epicenter is unusual for us.

“It (would be) a tremendous asset to any Super Bowl. … It puts us in a really unique spot to plan and execute a very successful event.”

The layout will be different than for recent Super Bowls.

In Houston two seasons ago, the game was played at NRG Stadium, located about eight miles from the major lead-up  events, which were held in downtown Houston. For last season’s Super Bowl in Minneapolis, “Opening Night” was held at an arena in neighboring St. Paul, Minn.

The 2014 Super Bowl was played in East Rutherford, N.J., with some major ancillary events in New York; the 2015 Super Bowl was played in Glendale, Ariz., with some events in Phoenix; and the 2016 Super Bowl was in Santa Clara, Calif., with many of the lead-up attractions in San Francisco.

Atlanta’s collection of downtown venues and hotels always is part of the city’s pitch when it pursues major sports events, including last season’s College Football Playoff championship game and the 2020 college basketball Final Four.

That has become an important selling point because marquee sports events increasingly feature multiple days of activities in advance of the competition. The Super Bowl’s buildup, though, is perhaps the longest.


Avocados and car mats will be among the products advertised on TV commercials during Super Bowl LIII.

Avocados from Mexico will air a Super Bowl commercial for the fifth consecutive year, as will car floor mat maker WeatherTech for the sixth consecutive year, according to AdAge.

Those reportedly are the first companies to confirm their plans for Super Bowl ads. The game will be televised by CBS.


The New Orleans Saints handed the Los Angeles Rams their first loss of the season last weekend, but the Rams remain the favorite to win Super Bowl LIII at 4/1 odds, followed by the New England Patriots at 9/2, according to Vegas Insider. The Rams were 3/1 before the loss in New Orleans.

Sports Illustrated’s “Monday Morning Quarterback” NFL power rankings moved the Saints to No. 1 after they beat the Rams for their seventh consecutive win.  The Saints are  the fifth different team to hold the No. 1 spot in the poll this season.

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

More midseason picks to reach Atlanta 

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

NFL welcomes $2 hot dogs at the big game

> Large NFL delegation in Atlanta for planning

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