Remembering the Georgia Dome
Last week marked the end of an era in Atlanta. Despite only being used for 25 years, the Georgia Dome was demolished on November 20. For a once-expensive stadium it was open for a relatively short amount of time, but it sure got a lot of use. While most people primarily remember the stadium for housing the Atlanta Falcons, it was also the only facility in the world that hosted the Final Four, Super Bowl and the Olympics.
After breaking ground in late 1989, the state-funded dome was eventually opened almost three full years later in August of 1992. The first sporting event to be played at the Georgia Dome was an Atlanta Falcons preseason football game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Falcons ended up winning the game which featured performances from MC Hammer and John Denver. Talk about worlds colliding.
From its outset, the Georgia Dome’s versatility made it a desirable place for both sporting events and concerts alike. The venue’s seating capacity for basketball and football exceeded 71,000, and as a result, plenty of high profile games and tournaments were held in Atlanta.
The Southeastern Conference (SEC) Football Championship Game and the Chick-fil-A Bowl were both hosted at the venue on an annual basis from 1994 through 2016. The NFL also held two Super Bowls in the ATL, with the Rams besting the Titans in 2000 and the Cowboys beating the Bills in 1994.
Despite the fact that many knew the Dome as a football venue, there were plenty of high-profile basketball games played during the stadium’s life. The 1996 Olympics used the venue to host its basketball tournaments and it was the site where the “Dream Team 3” won the Gold medal for the United States. The Georgia Dome also hosted the NCAA Men’s Final Four Tournament three times in the 2000s.
Surprisingly enough, the Atlanta Falcons were not the only professional sports team from Atlanta who played home games in the dome. The Atlanta Hawks played at the Georgia Dome for some of their games during the construction of Phillips Arena. In their short stint at the dome, the Hawks set the NBA record for single-game attendance with 62,046 fans, a mark that has since been bested.
On top of hosting all different types of sporting events, there were also frequent concerts at the Georgia Dome which featured some of the most well-known artists in the world. The first truly high-profile act to play the venue was Paul McCartney, whose 1993 New World Tour was attended by 46,352 on its stop in Atlanta. Throughout the next 24 years, the likes of The Rolling Stones, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Kenny Chesney, Beyoncé and Jay-Z all performed at the dome.
Despite already having a relatively new stadium, the Atlanta Falcons decided to explore plans for a new stadium back in 2010 with these plans coming to fruition at the end of 2012. After breaking ground in mid-2014, Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened on August 26, 2017. The new stadium in Atlanta is projected to cost about $1.6 billion but it has already paid dividends for the city as it helped them land Atlanta United, an expansion MLS team that shares the new stadium with the Falcons. Mercedes-Benz Stadium will hold the Men’s College Basketball Final Four in 2020, the MLS All-Star Game in 2018, and is also slated to host the 2018 College Football Playoffs and National Championship.
The Georgia Dome did provide us with one last gift before it was demolished to smithereens in the form of a hilarious viral video from the demolition itself. The Weather Channel was on the scene for the scheduled demolition on November 20 and had a perfectly framed shot of the stadium lined up. However, a MARTA public transit bus pulled in front of the camera right before the stadium was demolished, completely ruining the shot. The clip spread like wildfire on social media earlier this week and was a hilarious end to a chapter in sports history.