The road to Super Bowl LIII: Broadcasts, security require changes

Some temporary changes will be made in and around Mercedes-Benz Stadium before the Super Bowl is played there Feb. 3. 

New broadcast booths will be built to accommodate international networks, including some on the popular sky-bridges in front of the wall of windows at the stadium’s east end. Other needs also will be addressed with minor stadium modifications, according to Jon Barker, NFL vice president of event operations and production. 

“There’s a lot of infrastructure we have to build out to support our operations,” Barker said. “International and domestic press (facilities) are a big build-out for us. You’ll see temporary structures built around the concourses looking over the field.” 

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Outside the stadium, an expanded security perimeter will be put in place – a standard practice at Super Bowls, typically at least 300 feet from the game venue’s exterior walls. Game attendees will go through security checkpoints at that enlarged perimeter, rather than at the usual locations. 

The security perimeter will surround Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the Georgia World Congress Center and will include the Home Depot Backyard, but it won’t extend as far as Centennial Olympic Park, Barker said. 

The Congress Center will be the site of Super Bowl Experience, a football theme park, in the nine days leading to the game. Home Depot Backyard, an 11-acre greenspace that opened last month on the former Georgia Dome site, will be used as a fan plaza on Super Bowl Sunday. Centennial Olympic Park will be the site of Super Bowl Live, a six-day series of free concerts and other attractions. 

Work on the stadium’s interior modifications and the exterior security fencing will be done in early- and mid-January.

The structures will be removed in the weeks following the game.

The sky-bridges will remain accessible to fans at the Super Bowl on the back side, or city-view side, of the temporary broadcast booths.

Unless the Falcons have home playoff games, the last event at Mercedes-Benz Stadium before the Super Bowl will be the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 29. 

NFL gives progress report

The countdown to Super Bowl LIII moves under 100 days to go as of this weekend.

The NFL’s Barker last week offered this assessment of where preparations stand: “We are where we need to be. In fact, we might even be a little bit further.” 

He added: “We still have things to button up, but we are in a very good place.”

The Super Bowl has grown into a much larger, more complex spectacle since it was last in Atlanta in 2000. 

“Nineteen years is a long time not to be here,” Barker said, “and the event is different today. It is no longer a one-day event with shoulder events on either side of it. This is now a 10-day celebration.

“We are excited to come back to Atlanta. From an event producer’s standpoint, Atlanta understands how to host events, understands the work that needs to go into it. ... It takes us, legitimately, three years to plan this event.”

The 2000 Super Bowl was marred by an ice storm, which was blamed for the long wait before NFL owners returned the event here.

“That’s the one thing we can’t control,” Barker said of weather.

Super Bowl briefs 

> Verizon will be the presenting sponsor of Super Bowl Live.

> NFL Honors, a nationally televised show described by Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee chief operating officer Brett Daniels as “the Academy Awards of the NFL,” will be held at the Fox Theatre on Feb. 2, Super Bowl eve. Tickets won’t be available to the public.

> State Farm Arena, formerly Philips Arena, will host a Super Bowl event that will draw all players and coaches from both teams and thousands of media members. Now reopened after its $200 million-plus renovation, the arena will be the site of Super Bowl Opening Night, formerly known as Media Day, on Jan. 28. Tickets will go on sale in December or early January.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium will cap its second football season of operation with the Super Bowl. (HYOSUB SHIN / AJC)

Past installments of the AJC’s weekly “Road to the Super Bowl” notebooks:

NFL welcomes $2 hot dogs at the big game, “would love” an open roof 

Large NFL delegation in Atlanta for planning 

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