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For Super Bowl Weekend, an Atlanta Stadium Retrospective

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Atlanta has a long, rich love affair with its professional football teams, provided that they are winning and church services don't run long. To house all that devotion, you need a pretty cool coliseum, right? With this being the eve of Super Bowl XLIX, it's an opportune time to reflect on the professional stadiums of Atlanta's past, the doomed one of its present and what could be a game-changer of the future. These were the habitats of sports-related icons that, for their time, were uniquely Atlanta — from Deion Sanders to Chief Noc-A-Homa. And though they are stalwarts of the cityscape and beacons of civic pride, they can be gone in a flash.

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In 1967, architects Henry & Finch proposed a retractable roof for Atlanta Stadium (later Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium), which had opened two years earlier. As Stadium Page describes it, the roof would have been a plastic umbrella of sort, and could be raised or lowered in merely three hours! By comparison, the unique roof "petals" of the new Atlanta Falcons stadium were designed to open in eight minutes.

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Instead, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium remained a circular, open-air coliseum, home to the likes of Hank Aaron, Dale Murphy, Chief Noc-A-Homa and generally dismal baseball teams. It's seen here with a much smaller skyline as a backdrop, but still very much disconnected from other forms of human habitation.

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In the early 1990s, a younger, hipper neighbor moved in next door to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. And you know what that means ...

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KA-BLEWEEEE! For all its history, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was reduced to rubble by a well-timed ring of explosions in about 10 seconds in August 1997. You can watch a video of the awesome — if somewhat sad — spectacle right here.
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This Olympic-sized incarnation of Turner Field helps to explain its largesse, as far as baseball stadiums go. (Foul territory is exceptionally roomy, because the stadium was configured to allow for track and field events). After the Olympics, the north stands were demolished to allow for outfield seating — and the Chop House. Beyond left field, the fence line around the entrance still marks where Centennial Olympic Stadium once stood. How long will the rest of Turner Field stand? Only time (and maybe Georgia State University) can tell.
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Despite the claims of Deion Sanders, the Georgia Dome was built by a bunch of laborers — and a general contracting company prophetically named "Beers" — between November 1989 and the summer of 1992. With football seating for more than 74,000, it was the world's largest domed structure at the time. It also set records in the categories of "Most Awful Color Scheme" and "Most Shades of Maroon Applied."
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The Dome's fabric cap looks dated now, but the process to erect it was wildly complicated, involving 52 columns, a giant ring beam and some sort of levitational magic.
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Which brings us to the future, and our Space Robot Origami of 2017. We've come a long way, Atlanta, from the retractable umbrella of 1967 that never happened.

Turner Field

755 Hank Aaron Drive SE, Atlanta, GA 30315 404 522 7630 Visit Website