Super Bowl: Limo shortage could bring 'black eye' to Georgia
The sun sets behind Mercedes-Benz Stadium ahead of Sunday's NFL Super Bowl 53 football game between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots. (David Goldman / AP)
The Associated Press
Published Friday, February 1, 2019 9:08AM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 1, 2019 11:29AM EST
ATLANTA -- Limousine companies are blaming the state of Georgia for leaving them 300 to 400 vehicles short of what's needed to transport NFL owners, corporate clients and Very Important People this Super Bowl weekend.
Amy Patterson, vice-president of operations and logistics with Atlanta's Super Bowl Host Committee, said in a letter to Georgia's public safety commissioner that she fears this will become a "viral news story" and "a black eye for the state."
State law bars out-of-state limousines that aren't insured and registered in Georgia. Limousine firms say they should get an exemption for special events such as the Super Bowl. The state's public safety chief says he won't allow it.
The concerns were first reported by Atlanta's Fox affiliate, WAGA-TV.
Representatives of the host committee did not immediately respond Friday to requests for comment from The Associated Press.
"We are begging Gov. 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," said Jeff Greene, president of the Greater Atlanta Limousine Association. Greene calls the situation "extremely, extremely urgent."
Kemp said he's leaving it up to Georgia's Department of Public Safety commissioner, Col. Mark McDonough, and the colonel says he won't bend.
McDonough said the law is needed for public safety, noting that chauffeured vehicles have been involved in deadly accidents.
"They're basically asking the colonel of state patrol to set aside state law. That's kind of brash," McDonough told WAGA-TV . "That's not something I'm going to give permission to do."
Greene said limousine firms were allowed to use out-of-state vehicles to handle the crush of VIPS during the 1996 Olympic Games and the 2000 Super Bowl in Atlanta. But McDonough said he can't find written proof that was allowed to happen.
Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau spokesman Heather Kirksey said "we aren't aware of a transportation shortage" in an email on Friday.
But limousine company owner Fred Rich said "we're going to have to break major contracts."
"We're going to have to tell major, major corporate clients we can't handle their VIP travellers," Rich said.
Authorities have been urging everyone else to use public transportation.