NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, signifies the changing of Super Bowl host cities by handing the Mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Super Bowl LIII football at the Mall of America in Blommington, Minn., Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. Heidi Fang Las Vegas Review-Journal construction site for the future Raiders stadium photographed on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal construction site for the future Raiders stadium photographed on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal of the new Raiders stadium being constructed in Las Vegas. (Las Vegas Stadium Authority)The Los Angeles Rams are introduced during Opening Night for the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
ATLANTA — The Holy Trinity of American Sports is as ambitious as it is historically evasive. And so, here in the Georgia capital, where banners of Vince Lombardi Trophies and the metallic Super Bowl LIII logo display across town, a sinful city about 1,750 miles away can find inspiration.
Las Vegas could do this.
A week of Super Bowl festivities is underway in Atlanta, leading up to Sunday’s championship between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams. The nation’s most-watched sporting event is merely a second course for the metropolitan area. It is amidst becoming the second city to host the BCS National Championship Game, Super Bowl and Final Four in a three-year span.
In Atlanta, Alabama defeated Georgia on Jan. 8, 2018. The Patriots and Rams arrived Sunday for their week-plus stay. The Final Four of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament will be held in early April next year.
Other cities have hosted all three events.
Only Glendale, Arizona, has done it in such short span — from 2015 to 2017.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a $1.5 billion downtown project that opened in 2017, is housing the Trinity in a 27-month period beneath its signature, pinwheel-shaped retractable roof.
A $1.8 billion domed stadium is currently under construction in Las Vegas.
Its 2020 opening coincides with the Raiders’ relocation from Oakland.
“What we know is that Las Vegas is a competitor for us for attracting the most visitors in the country,” said Keisha Lance Bottoms, mayor of Atlanta, following the city’s host committee news conference Monday. “I think it’s Las Vegas, New York, Atlanta, and I’m sure there are some other cities in there. It’s about keeping your city competitive. It really is an opportunity for us to showcase the best of our city.
“As we host a successful Super Bowl, we know that there will be people who come here and go back to their respective cities and maybe want to bring back a convention here or something as small as a family reunion or even relocate their Fortune 500 company here.”
The Trinity could come to Las Vegas.
Many across the NFL consider a Super Bowl assignment for Las Vegas to be inevitable, a testament not only to the community’s proven ability to host a major event but also the league’s tendency to push its newest stadiums onto the sport’s largest stage. The next Super Bowl whose city assignment has yet to be determined is IX, which will be played in early 2025 to conclude the 2024 season.
For years, the Final Four has gravitated to closed-roof NFL stadiums. The Las Vegas project, once completed, would check that box.
Last May, the NCAA lifted its long-held policy that no college championship event could be hosted in a state that allowed sports wagering. This shift enables the Final Four and BCS National Championship Game to enter the Las Vegas Conversation.
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank cautioned that it takes more a fancy stadium to be an attractive host.
A point of pride for the organization is the food prices at games. Fans can purchase a $2 hot dog, $2 Coca-Cola refillable cup, $3 slice of pizza and $5 cup of beer, among other price points.
“In 2017, our stadium experience was voted No. 1 in the National Football League out of 32 clubs,” Blank said Monday. “Major League Soccer (Atlanta United FC) was as well, of 24 clubs in terms of fan experience. When people get inside of our stadium, they feel appreciated and feel warm and feel that they’re being nurtured. ‘Welcome home.’ This is their home.
“So it’s part about the venues. It’s part about the structures and experiences. But in large part it’s about how they feel when they go into the stadium. Are they really appreciated for their commitments, their time and energy and passion? I think Atlanta has that. I think places like Vegas hopefully will have that as well.”
reporter Michael Gehlken at Follow on Twitter.