For many, the Super Bowl is simply the highlight of the NFL season, and for others, a fun time to catch some creative commercials. But every year the Super Bowl leaves behind renewed excitement and new projects in its host cities. For Atlanta’s Super Bowl LIII, those projects are poised to be bigger than ever before.
A.J. Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress and a board member of the Super Bowl Host Committee, explained that part of the goal behind Legacy53, the charitable venture of the Super Bowl, was to redefine the impact that an event the size of the Super Bowl can have.
“Everyone has put a lot of work into getting ready on all different levels,” he said. “With any big event we’ve impressed upon the folks that are putting on the event that they’re going to be best served by trying to help the community both before and after.”
Legacy53 is broken into five initiatives: business connect, capital improvement, civil rights and social justice, sustainability, and youth engagement.
“The NFL really made a wonderful commitment very early on and have been deploying assets here for over a year in five categories,” Robinson said.
He provided information about each of the pillars of Legacy53’s mission and what shape they’ve taken leading up to Sunday’s big game.
A common theme in many host cities, Legacy53’s business connect, aims to provide opportunities to minority-owned and underutilized businesses in the process of organizing the many events around the Super Bowl.
“They’re diverse suppliers and organizers in a variety of categories, including event management, catering, printing — really everything to do with putting on an event,” Robinson said.
Eligible businesses had to be at least 51 percent owned by a minority, woman, veteran, or LGBT individual, and be in business for at least three years.
Alongside the Arthur M. Blank Foundation, the host committee has been renovating Atlanta’s John F. Kennedy Park. The $2 million project tries to provide the community with a safe and versatile outdoor play space and athletic fields and courts.
The park is used daily by students at the nearby Hollis Innovation Academy, and renovations include new turf playing surfaces, walking paths, basketball courts and playground equipment, among many other offerings.
“This is an ongoing effort at trying to improve the lives of kids on the Westside on a daily basis,” Robinson said. “The park will be dedicated on Thursday by the mayor and the NFL.”
Civil Rights and Social Justice
The most visible of all of Legacy53’s projects, Off the Wall, consists of 30 murals of civil rights and social justice icons being painted in Atlanta in partnership with WonderRoot community arts center. The organization attempts to improve the cultural and social landscape of Atlanta through creative initiatives and community partnerships.
Jake Pardee, communications and development coordinator at WonderRoot, said that applications were reviewed by a committee and artists were chosen based on a variety of factors, including artistic merit and prior work that relates to civil rights and social justice.
Pardee also said that the content was shaped based on 43 community conversations, hosted by WonderRoot and its community partners. “Off the Wall artists attended these conversations and used what they heard there from Atlanta residents to inspire their designs, … while also reflecting the people of Atlanta through our identities, priorities, concerns and hopes for our more equitable future.”
The Off the Wall murals are part of an ongoing project to showcase Atlanta’s civil rights journey, featuring murals from 11 artists.
“It’s a way to elevate and amplify Atlanta’s past, present and future roles in civil and human rights and social justice,” Robinson said. “We’re very excited about this because it will be a permanent part of our community.”
In addition to the murals, the Super Bowl Host Committee also focused on human trafficking as a target of their social justice projects. Aided by the Center for Civil and Human Rights, they’ve begun by calling attention to human trafficking at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.
“There’s been a big effort for everybody coming to town that this is not going to be tolerated,” Robinson said.
With a handful of different projects under the banner of sustainability, Legacy53 has dedicated itself to reducing waste at the Super Bowl.
Partnering with Trees Atlanta, 13 events were held to plant trees, build community gardens, and construct pollinator habitats throughout metro Atlanta.
“The NFL’s environment team came to us in late spring of 2018, and they were looking for a partner to implement the league’s urban forestry program, which they bring to each city. We ended up being the primary partner for all their projects, which was really exciting for us,” said Mike Vinciquerra, business development director at Trees Atlanta.
Beyond the tree planting initiatives, Robinson explained that there are other sustainability projects centered on recycling, like volunteer apparel, some of which is made from used water bottles.
“The goal is to make the Super Bowl as close to a zero-waste event as we can,” he said.
Partnering with three organizations, GENYOUth, Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, and Playworks, Legacy53 aims to tackle a number of issues facing Atlanta’s newest generation.
GENYOUth’s program focuses on providing schools with resources needed to offer healthy, nutritious school meals, including breakfasts for those from food-insecure homes.
Other youth engagement initiatives are themed around getting kids outside and engaging in physical activity, such as the Atlanta Day of Sport, which took place Sept. 29.
This isn’t the first time that Atlanta has hosted some of the world’s biggest sporting events. Between the 1996 Olympics and the 2000 Super Bowl, Atlanta has seen its fair share in the last 25 years, but Robinson said that 2019’s Super Bowl is poised to be different.
“I think that the difference now is that we have so much more to do where the game takes place,” he said. “The legacy of this particular event will be that people find out that we’re more than just a place to host a football game.”
With all these initiatives at the heart of the Super Bowl experience, there’s no doubt that it will be remembered as more than just a football game.
“This year’s Super Bowl will have a resonant, long-lasting impact in our communities thanks to the NFL and its Legacy53 initiative,” said Richard Cox, COO, City of Atlanta. “From hiring women and minority-owned caterers for Super Bowl events, to building playing fields for young people at John F. Kennedy Park, Legacy53 is lifting up neighborhoods where so many NFL fans grow up and live. I want to thank the NFL and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank for investing in our businesses and our people, and for joining our city’s ongoing revitalization of the historic Westside.”
- Eddie Samuels
- Tikkun Olam
- Super Bowl
- Atlanta Super Bowl
- Super Bowl LIII
- A.J. Robinson
- Hartsfield Jackson International Airport
- Center for Civil and Human Rights
- Laureus Sport for Good Foundation
- Arthur M. Blank
- Trees Atlanta
- Off the Wall