After Atlanta was awarded the 2019 Super Bowl on Tuesday, May 24, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to Saints owner Tom Benson explaining that New Orleans lost out to “unusually strong and unique competition” for the right to host the game.
That competition came in the form of The Temple member Doug Hertz, who served as the Atlanta bid committee co-chair and was a key part of the team responsible for bringing the Super Bowl back to Atlanta for the first time since 2000.
Hertz, the CEO of United Distributors and one of the Atlanta Falcons’ limited partners, was invited by Falcons owner Arthur Blank to serve as co-chair with Rick Smith, the CEO of Equifax. He addressed all 32 NFL team owners at the close of Atlanta’s bid during the NFL spring meetings in Charlotte.
What did he say that swayed the owners Atlanta’s way?
“I told them we’re ready,” Hertz said. “We have everything in place. We have a large financial budget. We have a huge public-private partnership. We have more hotel rooms within walking distance to the stadium than any other city in the country. We have a major airport. We have a 2-million-square-foot World Congress Center adjacent to the stadium, and we have four world-class tourist attractions within walking distance to the stadium in the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coke, College Football Hall of Fame and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
“On top of all that, the crown jewel is a brand-new, spectacular stadium.”
To secure the Super Bowl, Atlanta had to make it through four rounds of ballots against bids from Tampa, Miami and New Orleans. Tampa and Miami’s bids were eliminated after the second round of voting.
Atlanta fell short of the three-quarters majority required in the third round, then beat New Orleans by a simple majority in the fourth round.
Atlanta’s bid committee was led by the Atlanta Sports Council, the Falcons, the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority.
The under-construction Mercedes-Benz Stadium, due to open in 2017, is now scheduled to host the college football national championship game in 2018, the Super Bowl in 2019 and the NCAA Division I men’s basketball Final Four in 2020.
“It was a very gratifying but nerve-racking experience,” Hertz said. “When you realize that we are now going to have the national championship in 2018, the Super Bowl in 2019 and the Final Four in 2020, that’s pretty good for the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia.”
Five of the last six Super Bowls have been awarded to cities with recently built stadiums.
Atlanta hosted the Super Bowl in 1994 and 2000, but the big game hasn’t been back since an ice storm shut down the city on the Friday before Super Bowl Sunday in 2000. Hertz said he did his best to convince owners that bad weather wasn’t likely to be an issue.
“They have strengths and weaknesses listed in each bid,” he said. “Our only weakness was the possibility of bad weather, so of course we talked about how the weather here during this past Super Bowl was in the high 60s.”