The Super Bowl is here

By: King Williams

In the last 25 years Atlanta has hosted the big game two times, and we are on the eve of hosting our third. Each of our Super Bowl eras has marked a different phase of Atlanta.

The Home Depot Backyard outside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium
photo by Kelly Jordan

In 1994, Atlanta was on the rise nationally and globally.

In full swing of preparation for the 1996 Olympics, the 1994 Super Bowl planted the early seeds of the Atlanta we now know today. Atlanta’s first Big Game had to be a flawless representation of the pristine Atlanta we wanted to see.

It started with the destruction of Techwood Homes, the nation’s first public housing project, which led to the creation of the Centennial Village. That combined with the development of Centennial Olympic helped spark the revitalization of downtown Atlanta.

Additionally, the city sought to remove blight, implement mass code enforcement, relocate the homeless and increase MARTA’s efficiency and improve city services. With varying degrees of success, Atlanta presented a safe city during the two weeks of the Super Bowl, with the unfortunate exception of the bombing in Centennial Olympic Park..

In 2000, the post-Olympic Atlanta, the back to city movement was taking shape.

By that time, it was the beginning of the end for all remaining public housing within the city; we witnessed Atlanta’s hip hop music become an international phenomenon; and we experienced multiple phases of residential gentrification.

In the week before the 2000 Super Bowl, Atlanta was hit with a crippling ice storm – exposing the city’s lack of adequate transit and preparation.

The Atlanta of 2019 is a reflection of ‘new Atlanta’.

Building upon the gains made during the last 25 years of back to the city movements, Atlanta is a global cultural brand. That has  led to a gold rush of housing prices and gentrification.

Currently there is a scarcity of affordable housing options, fewer venues for young people, more suburban-like strip malls in urban settings, limited expansion of mass transit and  ongoing removal of the homeless. 

The shadow of the Falcons last Super Bowl appearance haunts this game

The Patriots two years ago delivered a devastating loss to the Falcons – one that has been imprinted in NFL history. If we’re being honest, Atlanta’s morale has never recovered.

The trend of Atlanta teams blowing leads and grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory has now become our brand. The one recent exception, of course, was Atlanta United winning the MLS Cup in 2018.

With the current match-up of teams coming to the Super Bowl – the L.A. Rams versus the New England Patriots, it is the second worst possible championship match up for Falcons fans. But at least Atlanta avoided a most dreaded showdown between the Patriots versus the New Orleans Saints.

So the Super Bowl will feature the Rams against that other team.

On the eve of another Super Bowl appearance by the New England Patriots, Atlantans may want to take the following precautions:

Sunset outside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Photo by Kelly Jordan

First, deactivate or delete all of your social media accounts.

Second, avoid all traditional media – print, television and radio.

Third, don’t watch the Super Bowl, especially the halftime show, which is doing little to feature Atlanta artists. 

Fourth, depending on your mental state, it may be a good time to schedule some counseling, take nature walks or start taking up yoga.

Fifth, try catching all of the great murals of ‘Off the Wall’

This time, Atlanta will be on full display again for the world to see. We’re more prepared this time around, we hope.

King Williams is a multimedia documentary film director and author based in Atlanta, Georgia. He is an associate producer on the upcoming Sara Burns (daughter of documentarian Ken Burns)/Dave McMahon’s Spring 2019 documentary – ‘East Lake’ – on the former East Lake Meadows housing project. King’s documentary “The Atlanta Way: A Documentary on Gentrification” will be released this January. His podcast on gentrification – “The Neighborhood Watch” – with Dr. Renee Skeete is available on iTunes and SoundCloud. And his book ‘The Gentrification Handbook’ will released in the summer of 2019. King can be reached at [email protected] or @iamkingwilliams on Instagram and Twitter. His google voice number is: 470-310-1795.

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