Jarred Schenke, Bisnow Atlanta
With Super Bowl LIII in the rearview mirror, Atlanta may have finally exorcised the ghost of Ray Lewis.
Atlanta's coming out party to the world was the 1996 Summer Olympics, which might be best remembered for the bombing that killed one person and injured hundreds more, not to mention the yearslong search for the bomber.
In 2000, the last time the city hosted a Super Bowl, two men were stabbed to death in the early morning outside of a popular Buckhead night club, and up-and-coming NFL star Ray Lewis' trial for his involvement in the incident dominated headlines for months.
“I think everyone woke up [Monday] morning relieved and pleasantly surprised that everything worked, and everyone had a pleasant time,” said A.J. Robinson, the president of the Downtown Atlanta business advocacy organization Central Atlanta Progress. "Our history has usually spoken differently."
The 2000 Ray Lewis incident changed Atlanta and gave the city a black eye when it came to hosting major events where the world's media is focused. It also did not help Atlanta's image that the region had to tackle throngs of fans and power brokers coming to a city crippled by an ice storm. That alone reportedly thwarted Atlanta from winning two other Super Bowl bids.
But Robinson and others saw what happened the week leading up to this Super Bowl and heard the compliments the NFL and other groups bestowed on city leaders for how the event was hosted as proof that Atlanta can now be comfortable in the public eye.
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