Atlanta will host Super Bowl LIII, meaning Falcons owner Arthur Blank gets a chance to show the world the $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a venue that opened last year to rave reviews, outside of issues with the retractable roof. Members of the Atlanta host committee were in Minneapolis taking notes during this year's Super Bowl to get a better grasp on how to prepare. The Falcons organization had 25 people in Minneapolis to help advance the planning strategy.
"We had a large contingent here in Minneapolis, checking out everything and seeing what we like, what we don't like, what we could change, what we could do to make it better," Blank said in a phone interview from Super Bowl LII. "Our environment is a little bit different because things are closer together. That's one of the reasons why our stadium has been so successful: We're a half a mile from over 10,000 [hotel] rooms. You've got the [Georgia World] Congress Center right there. So you've got all these others things that make it easy for the fans, easy for the media, easy for everybody."
Officials contend the roof won't be a lingering issue going into next season. Another concern raised has been the congestion inside the stadium and the ability for fans to exit the venue after games. Blank confirmed there is a plan to add at least two additional doors to assist with the exiting issues.
"There are a couple more doors that are being installed at pressure points," Blank said. "They are taking care of that now. I don't know exactly when it's going to be done, but I know it's [being addressed]. Any issues that disturb the flow are things we have to fix and modify."
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, constructed over 39 months, has 71,000 seats but is expandable to 75,000. There are 24 bars and restaurants and 673 concession points of sale. The stadium will maintain the "Fan First Menu Pricing" with items such as $2 hot dogs and soft drinks and $3 nachos and slices of pizza for Super Bowl LIII.
Blank hopes his Falcons will contend for a spot in next year's Super Bowl. No NFL team has played the Super Bowl in its home stadium.
"To be the first team to ever host the Super Bowl playing in its own stadium, I think, would be incredibly unique and special," Blank said. "That would be a great honor. ... Having said that, we have a lot of steps to take between here and then."
Atlanta won the 2019 Super Bowl bid in May 2016. Next year will be the first Super Bowl held in Atlanta since Jan. 30, 2000, when the then-St. Louis Rams topped Tennessee Titans 23-16 in Super Bowl XXXIV. An ice storm hit Atlanta during the 2000 Super Bowl, which was played indoors at the now-imploded Georgia Dome. Blank said another owner raised a concern about an ice storm possibly hitting Atlanta again and he assured that it was a "1-in-100 years kind of freak stuff" that was highly unlikely to occur again.