Opinion: New stadiums, hosting Super Bowl isn’t near Atlanta’s biggest revitalization challenge

ATLANTA — You don’t have to venture far from the site of the NFL’s showcase event this week to find the Super Contrast. Just go across Northside Drive.

For all that the glitz of Mercedes-Benz Stadium represents about the vitality of a progressive city, the blight of the Westside neighborhoods adjacent to the sporting palace — Vine City, English Avenue and Castleberry Hill — symbolize the challenge that will continue to exist long after the Patriots and Rams settle their business in Super Bowl LIII.

It’s the most distressed area of the city, where more than half the lots are vacant and almost half the residents live below the poverty line — in the shadow of a $1.6 billion stadium that included a record $700 million in public funds.

Not a shock that Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta’s mayor, labels the zone west of downtown as “Ground Zero” for a mission to preserve and create more affordable housing in the city. Hardly surprising that given the typical increased cash flow generated by the stadium, Arthur Blank, the Falcons’ billionaire owner, is knee-deep in pledging millions toward various revitalization projects.

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