At the end of January, more than 150,000 visitors flooded into Chick-fil-A’s hometown for the Pats-Rams faceoff. The economic impact of the nation’s largest sporting event is huge for any host city — businesses thrive, the publicity encourages growth, and the city’s heritage and culture are in the international spotlight.
It’s also an opportunity to serve. With many philanthropic activities surrounding the game, the city was full of service to others. Below are a few examples of how Atlanta and Super Bowl LIII gave back.
Renovation of John F. Kennedy Park
The Atlanta Super Bowl LIII Host Committee founded Legacy 53 as the philanthropic arm of the Super Bowl. One of their projects for youth engagement was to revitalize and transform John F. Kennedy Park on Atlanta’s historic Westside. In conjunction with the city of Atlanta Parks and Recreation, the $2.4 million renovation began in August to include an artificial turf playing surface, community walking path, new playground equipment, a new hard-court basketball court, a shaded picnic pavilion and sidewalk lighting.
"This gift to the city of Atlanta and the Westside is the direct result of Atlanta hosting Super Bowl LIII," said Dan Corso, president of the Atlanta Sports Council and chairman of the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee's board of directors. "The renovation of John F. Kennedy Park will serve as a vibrant reminder of Atlanta's third Super Bowl.”
On January 31, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms officially opened the renovated park.
The NFL Foundation made a $1 million contribution for the renovated park. Other contributors included the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, the Chick-fil-A Foundation, Park Pride, Primerica and WXIA.
Mayor Bottoms expressed her gratitude to contributors saying, “Thank you for leaving something in this community for others.”
The park is located across the street from the Hollis Innovation Academy, a PreK-8 STEM school, and will provide students and youth within the Westside community access to a local park.
The biggest rivalry in the nation during Super Bowl week might have been between sodas, not sports teams.
PepsiCo Inc. has been the long-term official cola sponsor for the National Football League and made its presence known in the hometown of its competitor, The Coca-Cola Company. Pepsi advertising could be spotted across the city reading: “Pepsi in Atlanta. How refreshing,” or “Look who’s in town for Super Bowl LIII.”
In the spirit of togetherness, however, the two beverage giants put their differences aside for a good cause. On the Thursday prior to the game, Pepsi proposed a #ColaTruce via tweet:
The Pepsi team arrived in Atlanta with a statue of founder Caleb Bradham, designed to match the statue of Coca-Cola founder John Pemberton and set them up in a toast. The stunt received so much attention that it quickly turned into a social media giving challenge – for every retweet, Pepsi donated a meal through United Way of Greater Atlanta.
The result? 130,000 meals were donated through United Way of Greater Atlanta.
Chick-fil-A ensured southern hospitality was alive and well by providing 3,000 sandwiches from January 28 to February 1 in the Mercedes-Benz media lounge.
The media weren’t the only ones enjoying Chick-fil-A’s Original Chicken Sandwich. Jonathan Hollis, a local Chick-fil-A Operator with restaurants located in many significant downtown attractions, donated 30 sandwiches a day to public safety workers keeping fans safe by providing extra security for the various Super Bowl LIII events.
Tributes to Martin Luther King Jr.
Atlanta is the birthplace of the civil rights movement and was home to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But due to unforeseen circumstances, some of the most culturally significant civil rights attractions in the city would be closed during the time of the Super Bowl.
Atlanta-based companies came together to ensure that Dr. King’s legacy would shine as bright as the rest of the city. The Delta Air Lines Foundation gave a $83,500 grant to open the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park from January 19 through February 3. Additionally, The Coca-Cola Company made a $1 million contribution to the Center for Civil and Human Rights allowing free access to as many as 50,000 guests between January 28 and February 28.
“There is no better way to celebrate this exciting moment in Atlanta’s history than to give back to our hometown,” said Helen Smith Price, president of the Coca-Cola Foundation. “We are proud of our city’s remarkable civil and human rights history and are pleased to offer residents and visitors alike the opportunity to learn more about how diversity, inclusion and unity are central to the story of modern Atlanta.”
Events with a cause
There were many events in the 10-day period leading up to the Super Bowl including parties, concerts and even other sporting events. One of the most notable events was the 18thAnnual Fashion Show hosted by the Off the Field Players’ Wives Association, an organization formed by active and retired NFL players’ wives. The beneficiary of this year’s show was Girls Who Code, a program that extends to all 50 states designed to close the gender gap in technology. Girls Who Code provides course programs, a community of support and pathways for career opportunities for girls interested in computer sciences.
The game may be over, and fans of both teams have left the city, but the impact of giving during Super Bowl LIII will be felt for years. The Atlanta business, sports and philanthropic communities came together to put on a spectacular event and made a difference where it mattered most—improving the lives of the people who call Atlanta home.