Atlanta is less than two weeks away from hosting the biggest showdown in professional American sports, and locals are amped—for reasons both good and bad.
Sure, it’s an honor this city was selected to show off its stunning new stadium—and its blossoming roof—an ever-changing downtown district, and a proven ability to throw a weekend-long party.
But the days leading up to Super Bowl LIII have seen challenges that could call into question the city’s preparedness to host such a spectacle.
Setting aside the fact that a crummy call—or many, depending on whom you ask—by NFL referees during Sunday’s NFC Championship Game has prompted cries to void the results of the consequential showdown that sent the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl, plenty of Atlanta-specific drama has cropped up ahead of the February 3 spectacle.
Atlanta Mayor @keishabottoms on #GovernmentShutdown's impact on #SuperBowl: "We are extremely concerned."#MayorsDC19 pic.twitter.com/wLyrIFTrgE— CSPAN (@cspan) January 23, 2019
For one, the federal government’s partial shutdown has substantially crippled the Transportation Security Administration, which hits Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport extra hard right before it’s expected to see hundreds of thousands of tourists flowing in for the Big Game.
In response to potential turmoil that could result from throngs of football fanatics coming and going, the Atlanta City Council has formally requested that President Donald Trump and Congress arrange to reopen the government.
“As the Super Bowl approaches, Atlanta is being denied the opportunity to put its best foot forward as national attention focuses on the world’s most televised event,” Atlanta City Councilwoman Jennifer Ide said in a prepared statement.
What’s more, a Washington D.C. radio host has called for TSA employees to call in sick en mass after the Super Bowl to “make it impossible for [tourists] to get back home,” according to 11Alive.
And if that didn’t instill horrors of clogged transportation channels before, during, and after the game, a MARTA train derailment last week further raised eyebrows about the transit system’s ability to ferry the extra load of people moving around the city during Super Bowl weekend.
Additionally, roads have already closed around downtown in advance of Super Sunday, and streets in Midtown are slated to shut down early next week.
There are also plenty of superficial reasons to be riled up about Atlanta’s Super Bowl, such as the fact that Chick-fil-A at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is not going to make an exception to its infamous policy of closing on Sundays.
Plus, soda giant Pepsi—the archrival of Atlanta’s Coca-Cola—has landed the advertising contract with the Super Bowl, meaning big blue banner ads are draped all over downtown, essentially flipping the bird to those so loyal to the red-branded cola.
In the same vein, Atlanta-based Home Depot’s main competitor, Lowe’s, announced Tuesday it had secured the title of “official home improvement retail sponsor for the game and the NFL,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
According to some Atlanta Reddit users, scammers have been marketing fake rentals on sites like VRBO and AirBnb, asking for absurd prices for Super Bowl weekend stays.
Hey, at least Falcons fans can bask in the hilarity of all this billboard drama.
A New Orleans business owner spent his own money on eight billboards he's placed around Atlanta claiming the Saints were robbed of a Super Bowl appearance here. Do you feel sorry for the Saints? #MorningRushATL pic.twitter.com/Tuc0kwoqV3— Jerry Carnes 11Alive (@jcarnes11alive) January 22, 2019