- Securing ‘big global events’ is a primary aim of Mercedes-Benz Stadium ownership
- Hosting a semi-final of 2026 Fifa World Cup also in sights of $1.5bn venue in Atlanta
- Falcons owners bartered with other NFL teams to get tickets for commercial partners
AMB Group – the parent company of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which is hosting Super Bowl LIII on Sunday – is looking to leverage the NFL’s showpiece event to become a cornerstone of a planned new Super Bowl rotation and to secure a semi-final match for the 2026 Fifa World Cup.
Instead of a bid process, from 2025 onwards the NFL is expected to rotate Super Bowl venues, having nearly completed its run of awarding one-time Super Bowls to new-stadium cities.
Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami and New Orleans are reportedly in line to become the cornerstones of the rotation, hosting the event every four or five years, with cities like Atlanta and Dallas becoming the fifth destination every half-decade, in addition to other scattered one-time awards.
But AMB Group – the investment group of Home Depot billionaire Arthur Blank’s for-profit businesses, which includes the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and its primary tenants Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United – wants the $1.5bn (€1.3bn) facility to become part of the permanent rotation.
And it believes that its efforts this week to help make Super Bowl LIII a success will go a long way in securing this aim.
“We look at this as a huge moment for us because the global spotlight does shine very brightly on Super Bowl Sundays and from the stadium standpoint we want to over-deliver in every single way, knowing that we want to be the host of these types of big global events,” Steve Cannon, chief executive of AMB Group, tells SportBusiness.
“We would love to host another Super Bowl: our aspiration is to get into regular rotation of cities that host Super Bowls, that would be an incredible accomplishment for us because that has an enormous impact on the city of Atlanta.
“Our job is to have a 365-day outlook for our building, and this is where [the Super Bowl] does become a commercial prospect for us. When we over-deliver when the global spotlight is shining our way, the likelihood of getting this event or a corporation coming in to hold their national meeting inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium rises, and those then represent revenue opportunities.
“Eighty per cent of the people that will be in our building on Sunday will have never been to Mercedes-Benz Stadium – that’s an opportunity to make a huge impression on a lot of new people.”
The Mercedes-Benz Stadium is also looking to host a semi-final match of the 2026 World Cup, which is being co-hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada. Atlanta is one of 17 US cities in the running to host games, a list that will be reduced to 10 by 2021.
The North American bid recommended Atlanta as a semi-final site, though Fifa will make the final decision over host venues in the early 2020s. “How we do in things like the Super Bowl will have an impact on whether they decide to have us as a semi-final city,” Cannon says.
So how exactly can AMB Group leverage Super Bowl Week to gain future events? Be the best partner possible to the host committee and the NFL, according to Cannon.
“When they say: ‘We need this done’, our answer is: ‘When do you need it done?’” he says. “We try to think of everyone as our customer so what does the media need coming in and out? What does the NFL need as our partner for things that they do? If we maximize that customer orientation at every one of these touchpoints, then we’re going to do a pretty good job.”
This has included selling stadium suites on the behalf of the NFL. “We did that because we know the market and we know the companies here,” Cannon says.
Securing Super Bowl tickets to ‘take care of best partners’
In the immediate term, AMB Group has looked to maintain strong relationships with its primary commercial partners by securing Super Bowl LIII tickets for them and putting on events during the week.
“We have a bunch of commercial partners that have made big investments in Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” Cannon says. “All of our partners are activating their sponsorships around the Super Bowl so they get to bring their best clients into town for an incredible event. It starts at that level, taking care of your best partners and making them feel good about their investment in us.”
Cannon and his team have worked hard to gain extra tickets beyond their given allotment as the host team. “You start with the prospect that every seat is the NFL’s seat and we have to work with them to claw back what we need to satisfy our most-important partners and that is a process that we’ve been working on for the past 10 months,” he says.
“Every team gets an allotment and as the host team you get a slightly larger allotment than the other 30 [non-participating] teams. But that allotment, at its face, doesn’t solve all of our club-holder or suite-holder or partner issues.
“So we work together with the league and we try to barter with other teams to cobble together an amount of tickets that satisfies the commercial promises we made with our partners. Not every team uses or needs all their allotment. There are trades that go on.”
Once the Super Bowl ends, Cannon and his team will immediately transform the Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the 2019 Monster Energy Supercross event on March 2 before Atlanta United begin their MLS season.
“Our job is to keep this building busy 365 days a year,” Cannon says. “When you spend $1.5bn-plus on a building, it doesn’t do anyone any good when it is sitting idle and vacant.”