MINNEAPOLIS -- When hundreds of thousands of football fans, media and guests journey to the city of Atlanta next February for Super Bowl LIII, city officials hope they leave with a new perception of the capital of the south.
Atlanta has already hosted a wide array of sporting events since Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000. But it's that icy day at the Georgia Dome that has left outsiders with a perception the city can't shake. When people think about Atlanta Super Bowls, they think of ice storms and Ray Lewis, despite the fact it held a successful Super Bowl in 1994.
Minneapolis handed off the Super Bowl to Atlanta on Monday at an NFL press conference at the Mall of America. The handoff occurred less than 12 hours after the Philadelphia Eagles upset the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Now, Atlanta is on the clock.
"Roll up the sleeves and go," Carl Adkins, Super Bowl committee executive director, said to 11Alive. "The perception will change. People will see Atlanta as something they’ve never seen before."
The development, renovations to Centennial Olympic Park and Philips Arena, new venues like the College Football Hall of Fame and more hotels are just some of the changes the committee likes to point out. They are also ready to prove the city is prepared and able to handle whatever comes its way.
New Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms traveled to her first Super Bowl over the weekend. She steps into the process after her predecessor, Kasim Reed, made a strong initiative to bring the biggest sporting events in the world to Atlanta.
"As we host events every single day in the city of Atlanta, when it comes to the really big event, meaning the Super Bowl, that we are just as capable of stepping up and doing it in the seamless way we do each and every day," the mayor said.
"If there were not confidence in our ability to execute and to do it well, we wouldn’t be standing here today. I think that has already been put to bed in terms of can we do it, and now it’s just a matter of making sure every day counts."
Yet, we won't know how prepared Atlanta truly is until Super Bowl week. Cold weather and the threat of ice closed many schools around Atlanta during the national championship in January. However, the roads appeared to be treated with salt and brine, and fans made it to the stadium. But there were issues with long security lines because of the president's visit and the audio inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
"So many meetings are already taking place," Lance Bottoms said when asked about the stadium overcoming some of the issues it is facing before Super Bowl LIII. She's the new face at the table, so she has some catching up to do.
Everything's bigger and better at the Super Bowl. So if all goes well, it will let the world know that Atlanta is the major sports city it has fought so hard to become.
"All the development that’s occurred downtown and in midtown, it truly is a different city," Adkins said. "So if someone hasn’t been there since 2000, they’re going to be very surprised."
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