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ATLANTA TO HOST 2025 COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

For the second time in less than a decade, the city of Atlanta will host the 2025 College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship. The game is slated for Monday, Jan. 6, 2025, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.  Atlanta becomes the first city to repeat as a host destination for college football’s biggest game.

The Atlanta Sports Council spearheaded the bid alongside its partners in the community including the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, City of Atlanta, Georgia World Congress Center Authority, Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the State of Georgia.

“This is a big win for everyone involved and we are excited for the Atlanta community,” said Dan Corso, president of the Atlanta Sports Council. “As soon as we wrapped up the successful hosting of the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, we were ready and eager to throw our name back into the hat. Atlanta is accustomed to hosting major sporting events, but this event is one that fits our community really well. We are grateful to the College Football Playoff for allowing us this opportunity for a second time and look forward to officially beginning the planning process with multiple partners in the community.”

“We are excited to return the College Football Playoff National Championship to Atlanta,” College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock said.  “When the playoff was created, the goal was to move the national championship game to 10 different communities in the first 10 years of the playoff.  After visiting 10 different communities during our first 10 years of existence, we accomplished our goal of sharing this celebration of college football with the entire country.”

“Bringing the game back to Atlanta was a simple decision when we looked at everything,” Hancock added.  “One of our greatest title games took place in Atlanta in 2018, and the city could not have been a better host.  A state-of-the-art stadium, a walkable downtown with venues to host all the activities surrounding national championship weekend and great people made Atlanta an obvious choice to be the first city to host a second title game.”

The Atlanta Sports Council and the College Football Playoff made the announcement in conjunction with the offices of Governor Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens—both of whom were in attendance.

“We are excited that the State of Georgia and Mercedes-Benz Stadium have been selected to host the College Football Playoff National Championship for the second time in the past ten years,” said Governor Kemp. “As the premier event of the college football season, and through the collaboration of the State, City of Atlanta, and our business community, we look forward to hosting more than 100,000 guests who will enjoy Georgia’s southern hospitality and a first-class experience.”

“The best of Atlanta will be showcased during the 2025 College Football Playoff National Championship, and Atlanta’s unmatched culture, hospitality, and infrastructure will be on full display as we welcome visitors from all over the nation,” said Mayor Dickens.

“With several major sporting events set to take place in Georgia in the near future, such as the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Semifinal, SEC Championship and the FIFA World Cup matches in 2026, I am thrilled that Georgia will continue to serve as a major sports hub with the addition of the 2025 College Football Playoff National Championship,” said Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. “The Peach State will once again have the chance to show football fans from across the country all that our great state has to offer. As the number one state in the nation in which to do business, this announcement brings us yet another step closer to also being the number one state in the nation for sports entertainment.”

“We are proud to welcome the College Football Playoff National Championship back to Georgia and the city of Atlanta,” said Speaker of the House David Ralston. “Georgia is the preeminent destination for major events, and today’s announcement only reinforces our reputation for southern hospitality. I applaud the work of all the public and private partners who came together to make this possible and look forward to a great game in 2025!”

“We are excited to be the first destination to host the College Football Playoff National Championship for a second time,” said William Pate, president and CEO, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We look forward to hosting thousands of football fans in our city and showcasing all that Atlanta has to offer.”

“The vision for Mercedes-Benz Stadium is to attract the world’s largest events time and time again,” said AMB Sport & Entertainment Chief Revenue Officer Tim Zulawski.  “The College Football Playoff National Championship was one of the first major events hosted at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2018 and we are honored to be the first venue to host this pinnacle moment in college football for a second time, and to see another champion crowned inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.”

Similar to 2018, the Atlanta Football Host Committee will be housed under the Atlanta Sports Council’s Championship Hosting Division alongside the 2026 FIFA World Cup.   Two Atlanta-based companies have already pledged their support to the Atlanta Football Host Committee, including Chick-fil-A and Georgia Power.

ACVB Promotes Lindsey Raimondi to Public Relations Manager

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) promotes Lindsey Raimondi to public relations manager after nearly three years with the organization. She will focus efforts on implementing strategic communications programs to support ACVB’s business plan and manage day-to-day activities of the PR team. Raimondi will be the lead contact for domestic media and will leverage those relationships and opportunities to increase Atlanta’s visibility as a top U.S. travel destination.

A previous summer intern with ACVB, Raimondi held positions as public relations coordinator at Georgia Aquarium and public relations trainee with the Atlanta Braves prior to returning to the organization as PR specialist. She is an active member of PRSA Georgia and was selected as Chapter Champion in January. Raimondi is a graduate of Liberty University with a degree in mass communication.   

Atlanta Selected As A 2026 World Cup Host City

It’s official: the FIFA World Cup is coming to Atlanta. The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be the largest edition of the world’s most popular sporting event yet, with 48 teams vying for soccer’s biggest prize in matches hosted across the United States, Mexico and Canada. The three nations won the right to host in 2018 after a yearlong bidding process. This unprecedented scale brings more attention to the already immensely popular competition, which has traditionally been contested by 32 teams and hosted by a single nation.

Twenty-two cities across the three North American host countries competed for bids to host matches, with 16 receiving the nod. The Atlanta Sports Council (ASC) led the bid effort, collaborating with state and local governments, Arthur M. Blank Sports + Entertainment, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority to win the bid.

“We have the pleasure of celebrating Atlanta’s selection as a host city of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, because of our strong, bipartisan public-private partnerships and many who have been working for years to put Georgia on the map since we hosted the 1996 Olympics,” said Governor Brian P. Kemp. “This premiere event will have a positive impact on so many hardworking Georgians. Hotels will fill with guests from around the world; restaurants will provide visitors a taste of the South they will not soon forget; attractions across Georgia will welcome those seeking to experience all the Peach State has to offer; and in each interaction, people will see Georgia’s Southern hospitality on full display. The world will be watching as we meet this moment, and we’re proud of all the entities who worked so hard to get us to this point.”

“Atlanta is a soccer town, and we’re excited to bring the game’s best athletes to the world’s best city,” said Mayor Andre Dickens. “Atlanta has already been home to the Super Bowl and the Olympics, and through our strong collaboration with the State and our business community, we will welcome folks from all over the world to fill every seat in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2026.”

Hosting World Cup matches will bring an economic boost to the city: an impact analysis by the Boston Consulting Group during the initial bid process in 2017-18 found that the 2026 World Cup is forecasted to contribute $5BN in new economic activity. Of that, $415 million alone is estimated in net economic benefit for Atlanta, which is becoming renowned for its support of soccer after the recent successes of Atlanta United in Major League Soccer.

“This is an incredible opportunity for the city of Atlanta to continue to show the world what we have to offer,” said Arthur M. Blank, Owner and Chairman of The Blank Family of Businesses, including Mercedes-Benz Stadium. “Our stadium was built to host world-class events, and we would be honored to continue that tradition in 2026 with the World Cup,” Blank continued. “I want to express my sincere gratitude to the Atlanta World Cup Bid Committee, especially the Atlanta Sports Council, Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and our AMBSE leadership team, for their diligent work over the past few years that has led us to today’s announcement.  There is still more work to be done, and I look forward to working with our public and private partners, FIFA and our local community to bring these spectacular global games to Atlanta.”

“We are thrilled to bring the world’s biggest sporting event to Atlanta,” said Dan Corso, Atlanta Sports Council president.  “Combining the assets of the state’s best public organizations and private companies has been a recipe for success here in Atlanta.  We truly believe our city is the country’s premier location to hold a major sporting event and look forward to working with FIFA to create a remarkable experience for all involved.”

“Atlanta is honored to be a host for FIFA World Cup 2026 and welcome the world back to our city,” said William Pate, president and CEO, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The combination of the world’s busiest airport, a world-class stadium, an extraordinary hotel portfolio and our Southern hospitality make our destination unrivaled when it comes to hosting global sporting events.”

This model of public and private collaboration has been successful in the past, with the Atlanta Sports Council utilizing its partnerships across the city to put on high-profile sporting events including Super Bowl LIII, the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship and multiple NCAA Men’s Final Fours.

Each match Atlanta puts on is expected to generate roughly $4.6 million in global media exposure. The rounds that the city will host will be announced by FIFA at a later date.

Two New Managers Join ACVB’s Marketing Team

EJ King and Daniela Cintron

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) announces the hiring of EJ King as manager, social media and Daniela Cintron as manager, content.

In his new role, King manages the voice and message of ACVB across all social media platforms. He will be responsible for showcasing Atlanta as a top destination for business and leisure travel while ensuring content adheres to brand standards. He will also support sales and convention services to raise awareness for upcoming events. Previously, he served as lead brand ambassador for Porsche Experience Center Atlanta.

Cintron joins ACVB to oversee the lifecycle of content, develop strategy and execute initiatives to help tell the story of Atlanta across ACVB channels and publications. She previously contributed as a bilingual writer for Discover Atlanta Now magazine. Most recently, she served as director of marketing for a law firm with experience as a bilingual journalist and podcaster.

GWCC Opens Andrew Young International Mall and Terminal

Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) celebrates the opening of the new Andrew Young International Mall and Terminal. Featuring two key elements – an engaging pedestrian walkway and a permanent bus/rideshare location – the Mall and Terminal are designed to create a welcoming gateway to the world-class offerings on the convention center campus and serve as a dynamic gathering place for visitors as well as residents of the surrounding downtown neighborhoods. The Mall and Terminal are built on a portion of Andrew Young International Boulevard that originated at Centennial Olympic Park and runs through the convention campus.

“The completion of the Andrew Young International Mall and Terminal continues the transformation of the most dynamic live-events complex in North America,” said State Senator Butch Miller, chairman of GWCCA’s Legislative Overview Committee. “Investment in infrastructure improvements such as these are key in maintaining Georgia’s position as a premiere destination for the country’s most high-profile events and will allow GWCCA to continue its role as a major economic driver for Georgia’s tourism industry and future growth.”

“The Authority’s vision of a more connected campus is now a reality,” said Glenn Hicks, chair of GWCCA’s Board of Governors. “On behalf of the entire Board, I commend Frank Poe, staff, and partners for delivering another on-schedule and under budget project.”

In addition to its primary role of blending pedestrian traffic with dedicated bus and rideshare options to aid attendee movement and relieve congestion along corridors surrounding the campus, the Mall and Terminal serve as a springboard for other developers seeking to create a shop-stay-play entertainment district.

“The Andrew Young International Mall and Terminal reimagines the arrival experience by providing our customers and their attendees the ultimate meeting destination in Atlanta for their events,” said GWCCA Chief Commercial Officer Joe Bocherer. “Features such as these, coupled with the forthcoming convention hotel, distinguish GWCCA from its competitors.”

“The campus upgrades at Georgia World Congress Center continue to set Atlanta apart as one of the top convention cities in the country,” said William Pate, president and CEO, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Meeting planners will appreciate the transportation enhancements and new space with Exhibit Hall BC, while attendees will enjoy the new outdoor pedestrian areas, providing a refreshed experience in our walkable convention and entertainment district.”

Anthony Molino Joins ACVB as Chicago Sales Director

Anthony Molino

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) announces the hiring of Anthony Molino as Director, Chicago Area Sales. Molino is responsible for attracting citywide conventions of 1,200 room nights or greater on peak from the Midwest market.

Molino has worked in hospitality for nearly two decades, most recently with Choose Chicago as director of hotel sales and national sales manager after joining the destination marketing organization in 2017. Prior to his time with Choose Chicago, he held positions as director of national accounts with Hilton properties in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. He began his career in event services at Chicago Marriott Downtown in 2004.

Volunteering his time within the industry, Molino currently serves as chair of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Global’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee. He also sits on MPI Global’s customer advisory board, as well as multiple committees with Destinations International.

ACVB Hires New Sales Manager and Promotes Two Long-Time Employees

Appley-Epstein, Dyson and Douglas

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) welcomes a national sales manager and promotes two team members to new roles.

Danielle Appley-Epstein joins the in-house sales team as national sales manager and is responsible for selling and marketing Atlanta as a premier destination for group meetings requiring 251 to 1,200 rooms on peak, focusing on East Coast markets and representing ACVB at events and trade shows. In her previous role as national sales manager at Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center, Appley-Epstein managed Midwest markets, working with major trade associations for some of the largest meetings and conventions in the U.S.

Amanda Dyson has been promoted to director, membership, corporate events and visitor services, now leading recruitment and retention programs for current and prospective members. She will also manage industry event planning and be responsible for the daily operations of the visitor information center, located in Downtown’s Centennial Olympic Park. Her tenure with ACVB began in 2004 as marketing manager before holding roles in international and domestic tourism and joining membership in 2017.

As manager, facilities, Janine Douglas will oversee all ACVB facilities, including the visitor information center at Centennial Olympic Park as well as manage vendor relations. She joined ACVB in 2009 as administrative assistant, corporate events and development as well as community and governmental affairs, supporting three vice presidents. She was promoted to coordinator in 2005 and has provided support to some of ACVB’s major events, including BronzeLens Film Festival.

ACVB Closes 2021 with Destination Accolades and Industry Awards

Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail

2021 was a banner year for the city of Atlanta with recognitions as one of the best destinations in the world for travelers as well as a top city for conventions and events.

In addition to these destination accolades, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau received awards including a Platinum Hermes Creative Award in the integrated marketing category for the Atlanta’s Food Story campaign while DiscoverAtlanta.com was given an eTourism Summit eTSY Award for best website and a Silver HSMAI Adrian Award in the website category.

Atlanta Awards and Accolades

Atlanta is a top destination according to many leading publications and organizations. See the latest accolades and awards for the city.

Destination

Best of the World 2022 – Culture and History – National Geographic Travel, 2021

“Atlanta is an epicenter of Black entrepreneurship, incubating businesses with a deep and progressive history. The destination’s history is largely tied to accessibility and continues today with Atlanta BeltLine. The project, which repurposes old railroad corridors into pedestrian-friendly paths, transforms Atlanta’s neighborhoods for walkers, runners and cyclists.”

Best in Travel 2022 (No. 4) – Lonely Planet, 2021

“Atlanta is a thriving, shining cultural jewel in the heart of the American South. A city that has
passion and activism in its soul – the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. was a major battleground state during the United States’ 2020 presidential election – is also home to an invigorated arts scene and cutting-edge sustainability initiatives.”

The 20 Most Livable Towns and Cities in America (No. 1) – Outside, 2021

“If you haven’t been to the South’s largest city in a few years, you might not recognize it. From the expansion of the Atlanta BeltLine, which will soon be a 33-mile path that connects 45 neighborhoods in the heart of the city, to a $5 million investment in 20 more miles of protected bike lanes, this bustling metropolis is banking hard on livability and open space.”

Top Trending Destinations for 2022 (No. 1) – Booking.com, 2021

“Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, is known as the cultural center of the South and offers a true urban adventure. Full of lively neighborhoods with world-class restaurants and a vibrant nightlife, it’s a great destination for all types of travelers.”

Best Cities for Conferences (No. 2) – SmartAsset, 2021

“Atlanta ranks in the top cities for conventions with its large number of hotels, affordable room rates, variety of dining options and accessibility to the airport from Downtown’s convention and entertainment district.”

Best Destinations for Large Events (No. 1) – Northstar Meetings Group, 2021

“Atlanta comes out on top of this year’s list as “the city in a forest,” whose bustling convention district is surrounded by a canopy of trees. Georgia World Congress Center features 1.5 million square feet of exhibit space. Downtown venues are accompanied by nearly 12,700 hotel rooms within walking distance and are just steps from major attractions. Getting to Atlanta is easy through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport offering 27,000 direct flights per month into the city.”

Culinary

The 50 Best Restaurants in the U.S. (Lyla Lila) – The New York Times, 2021

“Lyla Lila opened just before the pandemic, and has emerged this year as exactly the diverse, sophisticated and comfortable restaurant Atlanta’s booming Midtown neighborhood needed.”

Business

Top State for Doing Business (No. 1) – Area Development, 2021

“For the eighth consecutive year, Georgia ranks as the top state to do business with by the nation’s leading corporate site selection magazine.”

Executive Commitee and Board of Directors

See meeting schedules for Executive Committee and Board of Directors Meetings.

Officers

Chair, Board of Directors and Executive Committee
Kris Reinhard
Partner
Fifth Group Restaurants, Inc.

Vice Chair, Advisory board
Dexter Warrior
Principal and COO
T. Dallas Smith & Co.

Vice Chair
Ron Tarson
General Manager
Westin Peachtree Plaza

Vice Chair
Chair, Finance and Human Resource Committee
Stan Wilson
Managing Partner
Elarbee, Thompson, Sapp & Wilson LLP

Vice Chair
Chair, Board cultivation
Leona Barr-Davenport
President
Atlanta Business League

Treasurer
Chair, Atlanta Convention Marketing Fund Committee
Ken Bernhardt
Regents Professor of Marketing Emeritus
Georgia State University

Secretary
Chair, Compensation Plan and CEO Contract Committee
Erica Qualls-Battey
General Manager
Atlanta Marriott Marquis

Executive Committee

Ed Baker
Executive in Residence
Georgia State University

Karen Bremer
CEO
Georgia Restaurant Association

Debby Cannon
Director, Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality
Georgia State University

Tommy Dortch, Jr.
President and CEO
TWD, Inc.

Daryl Evans
CMO
Great Southern Wood Preserving (YellaWood)

Hector Gallardo
Vice President, National Sales
The Coca-Cola Company

Sharon Goldmacher
President
communications21

Sheffield Hale
President and CEO
Atlanta History Center / Margaret Mitchell House

Brad Koeneman
General Manager
Hilton Atlanta

George McKerrow, Jr.
Co-Owner
Ted’s Montana Grill

Derrick Morrow
General Manager
Hyatt Regency Atlanta

Nancy Oswald
Co-Owner/Director of Marketing
Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Frank Poe
Executive Director
Georgia World Congress Center Authority

Ramon Reyes
General Manager
Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center

Derek Schiller
President, Business
Atlanta Braves

Alexis Scott
Board member

Steve Smith
Senior Consultant
Pendleton Group

Scott Snipes
General Manager
Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead

Bob Somers
Vice President, Global Sales
Delta Air Lines

Armand Vari
Partner
Jacoby Development Inc.

Board of Directors

Cynthia Alford
Managing Director
Destination South Meetings and Events

Natalee Anderson
Director, Private Events and Tours
Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Joselyn Baker
President
Grady Health Foundation

Deisha Barnett
Vice President, Strategic Communications
UPS

Ken Baye
Co-owner
Stoddard’s Guns

Kimberly Beaudin
CEO
Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame

M. Brian Blake
President
Georgia State University

Todd Brosius
President
REEF

Andrew Chang
Executive Director, Marketing and Outreach
Piedmont Healthcare

Pinky Cole
CEO and Founder
Slutty Vegan ATL and philanthropist

Tony Conway, CMP
Founder and CEO
Legendary Events

Dan Corso
President
Atlanta Sports Council

Tim Dahlen
General Manager
Courtyard Atlanta Midtown and Element Atlanta Midtown

Dennis DeLoatch
Executive Vice President and General Manager
Carey Atlanta Executive Limousine and Transportation

Ayo Taylor Dixon
Sr. Associate Athletic Director
Georgia Tech Athletic Association

Bobby Donlan
Managing Partner
Donlan & Greenbaum’s New York Prime Restaurant

Jennifer Dorian
President and CEO
Public Broadcasting Atlanta

Dr. Meredith Evans
Director
Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

Allison Fillmore
Vice President and Executive Director
PGA TOUR Championship

Alex Gonzalez
Chief Innovation Officer
Metro Atlanta Chamber

John Grant, Jr.
Executive Director
Cricket Celebration Bowl

Martin Gray
CMO
Georgia Aquarium

Kevin Green
President and CEO
Midtown Alliance

Jo Ann Herold
CMO
Honey Baked Ham

Robert Hope
President
Hope – Beckham, Inc.

Sean Hyslop
President
Sysco Atlanta

Mark Jaronski
Deputy Commissioner, Explore Georgia
Georgia Department of Economic Development

Richard Jones
President
Presenting Atlanta

Anne Hydrick Kaiser
Vice President, Community and Economic Development
Georgia Power

Julia Lauria
Vice President, Athlete Branding
SportsTrust

David Malone
Chief Sales and Marketing Officer
Gas South

David Marvin
President
Legacy Property Group

John Metz
CEO and Co-Founder
Sterling Spoon Management Services

Mercedes Miller
Executive Director
Georgia International Convention Center

Peter Moraitakis
Senior Vice President and COO
United Distributors, Inc.

Stan Morrell
Vice President, Entertainment and Special Events
Stone Mountain Park

Adam Noyes
Senior Vice President
Proof of the Pudding

Eric O’Brien
Partner
Jackson Spalding

Mark O’Brien
President and CEO
LakePoint Sports

Robert Patterson
President
CityLife Development Partners

TK Petersen
Chief Financial Officer
The Gathering Spot

Jack Priblo
Director of Corporate Marketing
Georgia-Pacific LLC

Fred Rich
CEO
CTN Global Chauffeured Transportation

A.J. Robinson
President
Central Atlanta Progress

David Rubinger
Publisher
Atlanta Business Chronicle

Andrew Saltzman
Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer
Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena

Kris Shea
Vice President, Business Development
Juice Studios

Bob Schuler
Vice President
Atlanta Convention Center at AmericasMart

Kelvin Slater
Owner
Slater Hospitality

Jim Sprouse
Executive Director
Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association

John Stephenson
Vice President, Partnerships and Special Projects
Chick-fil-A

Gary Stokan
President and CEO
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

Guy Thomson
Vice President and Co-Owner
Pittypat’s Porch Restaurant

Jane Turner
Executive Director
Children’s Museum of Atlanta

Pat Upshaw-Monteith
President and CEO
Leadership Atlanta

Dan Vargas
CEO
Dortch Vargas Amigos

Allan Vella
President
Fox Theatre

John Woodward
Vice President, Global Commerce
Metro Atlanta Chamber

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