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A Fond Farewell to The Georgia Dome
The Georgia Dome was a massive stadium that loomed in the backdrop of downtown Atlanta for 25 years. The structure was home to the Atlanta Falcons.
During its curiously short lifespan, the Georgia Dome played host to over 1,400 events, attended by over 37 million people. I witnessed the construction in real-time, as I was an Atlantan when it was built, and I watched its destruction via live video, as I now live on the other side of the country.
I will mostly remember the dome as being a basic part of the scenery of downtown Atlanta. I feel somewhat nostalgic about the structure being blown to bits, so I've decided to take a look back in remembrance...won't you come along?
The Georgia Dome was constructed in 1992 at a cost of $214 million. At the time of its construction, it was the second-largest covered stadium in the world.
The structure was erected on a space with a little more than 9 acres of land, it stood at nearly 271 feet tall, and it was approximately 745 feet long.
At one point in time, it was the world's largest hooked domed structure, until the Millennium Dome was built in London in 1999.
The Georgia Dome was erected in close proximity to the The Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC), which is a convention center in downtown Atlanta.
The area is also home to Centennial Olympic Park, and is adjacent to The CNN Center, and the Phillips Arena.Underneath the complex lies the GA Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Center Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) Station.
Whenever major ticket acts like The Rolling Stones, Beyonce, etc., came to play the dome, the MARTA station was the fastest and easiest way to get to the show. Atlanta traffic is already legendary on a normal day, no one in their right minds would want to be entangled on the roadways if U2 was slated to play at the dome.
Storm Damage, Renovations and Replacement
In 1995, rainwater from a severe rainstorm pooled on the fabric atop the building, and caused a large chunk of the roof to collapse into the stadium. In 1998, a tornado tore two huge holes into the dome during an Alabama v. Mississippi game, and caused the game to be relocated.
Although the structure was in close proximity to the venue, the dome was left untouched in the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing that killed one person and injured 111 more people.
The Georgia Dome underwent massive renovations in 2007 and 2008 totaling $300M, and less costly overhauls to the audio and video systems in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
Then in 2010, it was announced that a new, retractable roof stadium would be constructed just south of the dome. The City of Atlanta gave its approval for the new stadium by 2013, and construction began the next year.
2010 was the beginning of the end for the Georgia Dome, and the brand new $1.6 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened its doors on August 26, 2017.
Last Ditch Effort to Preserve the Dome
In March of 2017, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s office received a stack of petitions from a group that wanted to save the Georgia Dome. Since the announcement of the Mercedes-Benz stadium, the dome's fate of demolition had been sealed.
Molly Read Woo stood at the Georgia Capitol in an attempt to persuade the governor to re-think the destruction of the structure. Woo, is a concerned citizen from Buckhead, who believed the dome should be spared and put to use, instead of being blown up, with the space being used as a parking lot for the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Woo was passionate about her cause, she constructed a Save the Dome Facebook Page, and she even wrote and posted a Save the Dome Song. Although 100% of what Molly Read Woo had to say in her song was true...her pleas still fell on deaf ears - unfortunately, the Georgia Dome was not to be saved.
Demolition: Atlanta Loses an Historic Site
In July 2017, officials removed equipment they intended to reuse elsewhere on the complex. Most of seats and the bowls were sold to area colleges and high schools, some were recycled, and others were destroyed. Georgia Dome memorabilia was sold in an online auction.
In the early morning hours of Monday, November 20, 2017, City of Atlanta officials brought down the mighty structure. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the demolition took nearly 3 tons of explosives, and it went down in 12 seconds.
MARTA officials suspended all service west of the Five Points Rail Station for most of the morning, and dust from the implosion left cars and buildings covered in grime, as dust clouds coated the area.
And so, the Georgia Dome is no more. In the end, the structure collapsed amidst the shadow of its gloriously gleaming replacement...it bowed without fanfare, and by next year at this time, the entire event will be forgotten by many.
Progress marches on with the passage of time, but some of us will have fond memories of the Georgia Dome, and we will miss its presence on the face of downtown Atlanta. Even further, I'm sure many of us struggle to understand why a $200 million structure only stood for a mere quarter of a century.