For some staffers with the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee, the focus very soon will turn to another big sports event headed this way.
On Feb. 18, just 15 days after Super Bowl LIII, they’ll be on a plane to Minneapolis for NCAA meetings that will help jump-start preparations for college basketball’s Final Four next year in Atlanta.
“The Final Four is one of the major sporting events in this country,” Atlanta Sports Council president Dan Corso said. “We’ll take that just as seriously as we take planning a Super Bowl.”
No one knows when the Super Bowl will return to Atlanta, but it is known that other mega-games are headed here: a College Football Playoff semifinal in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 28, 2019, and the Final Four on April 4-6, 2020. Both events will be in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“We’re always kind of off to the next thing,” said William Pate, president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Indeed, as Super Bowl festivities kicked into high gear last week, Corso said: “We’re 429 days away from the Final Four.”
Local sports and tourism officials also are seeking to add other large events to the list of coming attractions: the Major League Baseball All-Star game in the summer of 2021 and part of the World Cup soccer tournament in 2026.
MLB plans to name the site of the 2021 All-Star game within the next few months and has said SunTrust Park is a strong candidate. And FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, plans to select within the next two years the 16 North American cities that will host 2026 men’s World Cup matches and has suggested Atlanta as a potential site for a semifinal and for the event’s international broadcast center.
Preparing for a run of big sports events here, the Atlanta Sports Council two years ago created what it calls its Championship Hosting Division (CHD). The host committees for the college football national championship game held here in January 2018 and for the Super Bowl were part of the CHD, as is the host committee for the 2020 Final Four.
“It creates continuity,” Corso said.
The Super Bowl host committee, which has a full-time staff of 26, will wind down its operations in the coming weeks and months. Some of the staff, including executive director Carl Adkins, will remain on board for the Final Four and will continue to work out of the same CHD offices in the Georgia World Congress Center.
“We won’t need 26 (for Final Four staffing). We’re thinking we’ll need around 12,” Corso said. “The Final four staffing will be similar to what we did for the (college football national championship game). We basically doubled the staff for the Super Bowl.”
Adkins and some of the other staffers who will transition to the Final Four efforts will be in Minneapolis for the three-day meetings starting Feb. 18. The main point of the NCAA-led meetings is to finalize plans for producing this year’s Final Four in Minneapolis, but the Atlanta delegation will participate with an eye toward 2020.
The men’s Final Four next year will be the fifth played in Atlanta, the previous four having been in buildings that no longer exist -- The Omni coliseum in 1977 and the Georgia Dome in 2002, 2007 and 2013.
Several months before the 2020 Final Four arrives in Atlanta, a College Football Playoff semifinal game will be played here for the second time. The Peach Bowl is one of the CFP’s six rotating semifinal sites, each of which hosts a semi once every three years.
Next up after the Final Four could be the MLB All-Star game. The Braves’ bid for the 2021 game pitches the idea of an Atlanta-wide effort with ancillary events extending from downtown to Buckhead to Cobb County.
“Our proposal for ’21 is very strong,” Corso said. “It has been well received (by MLB). We are waiting for the final word.”
“I’ve got to believe Major League Baseball is interested in showcasing one of their great new stadiums and everything around it in The Battery,” Pate said. “It would be wonderful to have that event back.”
> College Football Playoff semifinal: Dec. 28, 2019, in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
> College basketball men’s Final Four: April 4 and April 6, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
> In addition, bids are pending to potentially host the 2021 Major League Baseball All-Star game at SunTrust Park and part of the 2026 World Cup soccer tournament at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.