ATLANTA (Reuters) - You want to host a Super Bowl?
Be prepared to take on an Olympic-sized bidding process and throw in a billion or two for a new stadium to enhance your chances of staging the biggest party and sporting event in the United States.
Unlike the International Olympic Committee, which has had trouble recently attracting bidders for their Games, competition is fierce between cities desperate to land a Super Bowl.
Atlanta will stage the NFL title game on Sunday for a third time and the first since 2000 when the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams clash at the futuristic Mercedes-Benz Stadium, using the opportunity as a sales pitch to try to get on a Super Bowl rotation of hosting once every 8-to-10 years.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear at his state of the league address on Wednesday that he welcomes the interest but his message is the same for everyone - get in line.
“We want to reward those communities that help build great stadiums like Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the fans that help support the Falcons to put those communities on the stage that is unmatched in any event in the world,” said Goodell when asked about the possibility of awarding a Super Bowl to London or state like Hawaii.
“For the foreseeable future I don’t see that changing.”
Any city bidding for a Super Bowl must tackle a 150-page plus NFL bid book packed with specifications and requirements from securing and guaranteeing thousands of hotels rooms to security and ensuring the locker-rooms being used by the two teams are as identical as possible.
For Atlanta, the proposal included a plan to transform Centennial Olympic Park, the hub of the 1996 Summer Games, into Super Bowl Village and the World Congress Center into the NFL Experience and Media Center.
“They (NFL) want to see how your community is going to embrace the event,” Dan Corso, chairman of the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee and president of the Atlanta Sports Council, told Reuters. “You have to show that in your video treatments, your material, whatever you are going to submit.
“Our message to the NFL was that this city has completely transformed since the last time they were here both in population, corporate headquarters, infrastructure, the transportation systems.”
Like any good bid Atlanta needed a catchy slogan and settled on “Atlanta Transformed”, emphasizing how much the city had changed since hosting its last Super Bowl 19 years ago.
It was a message that resonated with the NFL, Atlanta beating out Miami, Tampa and New Orleans for the 2019 showcase.
“Our role is to quarterback that process and went through a 13 month bid process,” Corso said. “Every city that gets approved to submit a bid gets a chance to make a presentation and that is the final part.
“You make your presentation, you go into the waiting room and wait for the white smoke to appear.”
The cornerstone of any Super Bowl bid is the stadium. Build it and a Super Bowl will come.
The $1.6 billion Merecedes-Benz stadium is an eye-catching piece of architecture that features an ocular eight-pedal retractable roof, and a floor-to-ceiling window facing Atlanta’s skyline will provide a dazzling stage for a game that will be viewed around world.
Cities building new stadiums have been rewarded by the NFL for their investments by gifting them a Super Bowl that generates hundreds of millions of dollars of economic impact and numerous other spinoff benefits for the host community.
There is little doubt the NFL would not have set foot in wintry Minneapolis last February for a Super Bowl if was not played in the comfort of U.S. Bank Stadium that opened in 2016 at a cost of over $1 billion.
The next two Super Bowls are set for Miami and Tampa at stadiums that have undergone massive renovations before NFL takes its showcase to Los Angeles in 2022 at the Rams new home that will cost an estimated $4.5 billion.
“Without a doubt a new stadium helps,” Corso said. “But it has to be a really fine stadium.
“You have to remember when we were putting together this bid in 2015 it was a hole in the ground with some steel coming out of it.”
(This version of the story fixes typo in para 12)
Editing by Ed Osmond