Congratulations are in order to Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. Their dream has come true. They got what they wanted, because the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a price tag of $1.4 billion and its revolutionary design will be the site for the 2019 Super Bowl.
Upon hearing the news that Atlanta had been awarded the bid for Super Bowl LIII Falcons owner Blank gushed, “It’s a wonderful day for our city and franchise and I know the people of Atlanta and all of Georgia will deliver a spectacular Super Bowl celebration in 2019.”
Reed exclaimed, “I mean, I’m thrilled. This has been a long time coming. I’m really so happy for Arthur Blank and for the Falcons organization. Reed told Aaron Diamant of WSB-TV, “The big game will mean millions for the city’s and the region’s economy.”
Those who were the primary advocates for Atlanta hosting the Super Bowl chimed in with the mayor, saying, “This is a big time money-maker for the local economy and this is big news for the city.”
But the real question is: Will the Super Bowl actually be a moneymaker? Edwin Rios, who writes for an online newspaper, contends that Super Bowl economic impact studies are still bogus. Rios states, “When Super Bowl fans flood area hotels, they’re likely just filling spots that would have already been filled.” He also insists that residents can be reluctant to visit the [downtown area of a super bowl city] over fear of traffic, congestion, and increased security, displacing typical economic activity and leaking money out of the city.
The Super Bowl is one of the world’s highest security threats, and in today’s climate that includes cybersecurity, which involves protecting energy systems, electrical grids, and public-safety computer systems. The increased security protection does not come without significant costs. In most recent Super Bowls more than 200 specialists in cybersecurity assembled two to three months in advance to plan how they could keep the host city safe from any kind of incident that would jeopardize the safety of the citizens as well as the people present for the game.
The San Francisco Examiner reported that after all the accounting was finalized Super Bowl 50 cost the city $4 million. Jason Notte, writing for MarketWatch, states, “Super Bowl host cities always lose the money game. The economic impact touted by the NFL should be a euphemism for ‘footing the bill.’”
Josh Peter, writing in USA Today, reported that last year’s Super Bowl in Glendale, AZ cost the city about $30 million. In other words, if you get the big game, you get the big bill.
I like football. I played football for six years in junior high school and high school. I have two sons who played college football. I enjoy watching the NFL on television. I would like to go to a Super Bowl if they played the game some time other than Sunday. I think it is nice that Atlanta has won the bid for Super Bowl LIII. I think it does bring some kind of distinction to the city of Atlanta. However, winning this Super Bowl bid is clouded with sadness and regret.
Both the Georgia House and Senate passed a significant religious liberty bill (House Bill 757) in March and the bill awaited the signature of Governor Nathan Deal.
Multi-millionaire Arthur Blank, remarked, “I strongly believe a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming Georgia is critical to our citizens and the millions of visitors coming to enjoy all that our great state has to offer. House Bill 757 undermines these principles and would have long-lasting negative impact on our state and the people of Georgia.”
I don’t know how much Mr. Blank actually knows about the bill and doubt if he has even read it, but I am less than please with his apparent myopic view of HB 757.
There is absolutely no evidence that the bill would have discriminated against anyone; and the 30 states that have passed similar legislation have never had a complaint registered against them citing discrimination.
So, instead of signing the bill into law, Governor Deal vetoed the bill and discriminated against the faith community in favor of the NFL and big businesses. So, Atlanta winning the Super Bowl bid this time has lost its luster for me, because I think somebody sold our birthright for a mess of pottage.