Atlanta Passes Super Bowl Off To Miami

Feb 5, 2019

Atlanta and NFL officials passed the ball to Miami for Super Bowl 54.

As a mass exodus happened at Atlanta’s airport and wait-time rose past an hour, the city started its cleanup and passed responsibilities for next year’s game to South Beach.

It marked the end of a 10-day Super Bowl experience that included free concerts, an NFL-themed park, and an infusion of nearly a million people into the city.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell offered his praises for the city's hosting.

"The city of Atlanta, they did a remarkable job,” Goodell said.  “The week was spectacular. Everything went as planned and we were just thrilled with the week and just truly grateful for your southern hospitality."

The famed southern hospitality was a top goal for the 10,000 volunteers dispatched around the city to help fans navigate during the weekend.

RELATED: Meet Some Of The 10,000 Volunteers Bringing You The Super Bowl

Public Safety Assessment

Atlanta Police also got assistance from state and federal partners including the FBI, Georgia State Patrol, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Though there were no major events that required law enforcement to intervene, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields said if the Super Bowl returns, she wants it to be more pedestrian friendly.

The Olympic rings in Centennial Olympic Park were a large attraction over the weekend, but the Monday morning after, all was quiet.
Credit Ross Terrell / Georgia Public Broadcasting

"One of the things I would have liked to have done is I felt as though we should have had a larger pedestrian corridor,” Shields said Monday, assessing how her department handled the event. “Centennial Olympic Park should have had no vehicles."

Shields said the NFL wanted to keep some of the roads around the park open to buses and shuttles, but sidewalks could not accommodate the number of people walking there for free concerts and other events.

Another lesson Shields said she learned, is that crime didn't slow down in other areas of the city just because the game was in town. 

MARTA’s Performance

Leading up to the game the message was clear from Shields and other city leaders to take Metro Atlanta's Rapid Transit Authority.

The transit authority ran non-stop service over the weekend and said it had nearly half a million customers over that stretch. The Saturday before the game, some 270,000 riders used MARTA’s rail service.

More than 500,000 people took MARTA over Super Bowl weekend as many riders were encouraged to use the transit service to get downtown.
Credit Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority

The agency deployed 600 transit ambassadors throughout its 38 stations to help with crowds. Super Bowl Sunday saw 155,000 people hop on board. 

"We carried a ton of people,” MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker said. “And people voted with their feet and I think that tells me we were tremendously successful."

Parker said focusing on customer service will help them sustain higher ridership for locals who also took the train.

During last year's College Football National Championship, some people waited hours to board trains after the game. But Parker said preparing for the Super Bowl for two years paid off as there was minimal delay.

The service continued even though hundreds of bus drivers participated in a sick out due to a labor dispute with their union and MARTA.

The transit agency did run into some trouble as the streetcar, which it operates, was shut down Saturday night due to traffic. Parker said he doesn’t see that as a problem, but rather a factor of being in a large city with a large crowd.

Miami On The Clock: Super Bowl 54

Now that the game and associated events are over, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms was full of thanks.

"We are grateful that you chose Atlanta,” she said. “And we are grateful that it will not be here next year."

The 2020 Super Bowl will mark the 11th time Miami has been selected as a host and the first time since 2010.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said they hope to follow in Atlanta’s footsteps.

"Fantastic job; you set the bar really high,” Gimenez said. “We hope to meet that and reach that in Miami and we promise you you're going to have a good time."

As Atlanta returns to business as usual, many fans hope the Falcons will return to the place where they played in their first Super Bowl in 1999, but with a different result. They lost to the Denver Broncos.

Until then, Miami is officially on the clock.