Officials Worried a Restrictive Georgia Regulation Could Bring a 'Black Eye' to Super Bowl


It appears that frigid temperatures for visitors arriving in Atlanta for the Super Bowl are no longer a concern.

But there is a new worry among many in Atlanta: a limousine shortage.

Limo companies say they are about 300 to 400 vehicles short of what’s needed to transport the NFL’s bigwigs, VIPs and corporate clients, according to WAGA-TV in Atlanta.

Amy Patterson, vice president of operations and logistics for Atlanta’s Super Bowl Host Committee, sent a letter to Georgia’s public safety commissioner in which she described this situation as “a black eye for the state.”

The problem is that Georgia law prohibits out-of-state limos that aren’t insured and registered in the state.

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The state’s public safety chief said he won’t allow firms to get an exemption to get around this law, WAGA reported.

Department of Public Safety Col. Mark McDonough said the limo owners are at fault for not asking for special permission for their out-of-state limos until just weeks before the Super Bowl.

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“It wouldn’t matter if they requested it six months ago or two weeks, the answer is the same,” he said. “Somebody is asking to circumvent state law, the answer from me is no.”

Jeff Greene, president of the Greater Atlanta Limousine Association, said, “We are begging Gov. (Brian) Kemp to step in and protect the people of Atlanta, the people of Georgia, the people coming in from out of town to allow us to safely handle their transportation.”

Kemp, however, indicated he’s not going to get involved in the controversy, leaving the decision to McDonough.

Limo owner Fred Rich is outraged that this could lead to him and other owners upsetting their clients with their inability to provide limousines.

“We’re going to have to break major contracts,” he told WAGA. “We’re going to have to tell major, major corporate clients we can’t handle their VIP travelers.”

In addition to two previous Super Bowls in 1994 and 2000, Atlanta has also hosted other big events, including the Summer Olympics in 1996.

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But laws were different back then and a different state agency regulated limos 23 years ago. Many of those same limo owners that worked the 1996 Olympics are still around today.

“The bottom line is, in previous special events and the Olympics and the Super Bowl we were allowed to operate,” Green said. “It went super smooth.”

With or without a shortage of limousines, the show will go on. Super Bowl LIII kickoff is slated for 6:30 pm ET.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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