MINNEAPOLIS -- How can you get close to the Super Bowl without having a ticket?
One way to immerse yourself in the experience for a week is by being a Super Bowl volunteer.
Atlanta will need at least 10,000 volunteers for the week of Super Bowl LIII. With the game less than a year out, the game officials have begun launching their programs for interviewing and hiring volunteers.
They planned a kickoff event in March in their search for at least 20,000 applicants. They will narrow the applicants down to roughly 15,000 people to interview, then select 10,000 volunteers for the week of the game.
Volunteering doesn't get you a ticket inside the game. You'll still need to fork over thousands of dollars for that. But it will get you in the heart of the action around events such as Super Bowl LIVE, around the streets of the city, the airport, and wherever the game's footprint may fall. It's all to help out the roughly 250,000 guests who are projected to come to the city without even having a ticket to the game.
So what's the incentive?
Cordell Smith was one of two volunteer coordinators for Minneapolis, and he can find a few.
"I think the biggest incentive is just being a part of the Super Bowl. For cities that usually get Super Bowls, people are used to that. Up here, we don’t always get that opportunity. We may never get that opportunity again," he said.
But there's also the uniform, which in Minneapolis included several stylish jackets, winter gear and backpacks. Volunteers were set with anything they needed.
But getting hired as a volunteer is a rigorous process that requires at least a 30-minute interview and a background check, all for a position that doesn't pay. But the role is important, and it's the volunteers that leave visitors with a lasting image of the city.
That's why there's a certain personality those hiring the volunteers are searching for.
"People with personalities where people from out of town would be like, wow, those people were really awesome from Minnesota," Smith said.
That usually means someone peppy and having a contagious smile. The volunteers are extremely outgoing and must be always willing to lend out a helping hand.
Volunteers in Minneapolis worked 4 to 6 hour shifts, and volunteer captains worked 8 to 10 hours. Most of their work began the week before the Super Bowl when Super Bowl LIVE opened for the first time. But they also got called upon earlier in the week when necessary.
Early applicants in Minneapolis got to choose which roles they wanted. Most were interested in Super Bowl LIVE where the concerts and fan events took place.
"It's such a key part to hosting these big events," Atlanta sports council director Dan Corso said as he toured Minneapolis' volunteer headquarters. "It's one way the community can kind of wrap their arms around it."
Atlanta has had success with volunteers in the past, most recently with the College Football Playoff national championship. The city surpassed the number or volunteers needed way before the deadline set by the CFP. That has given them confidence that they'll have little trouble finding enough volunteers.
"That shows the spirit that we have from our volunteer network to jump right in," Corso said.