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Atlanta's Olympic cauldron relocation floated five years ago; went nowhere

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Flashback: The idea to move the cauldron to Centennial Olympic Park was attempted five years ago, to no avail

Atlanta’s Olympic cauldron, currently perched on a 116-foot tower amid parking lots, leaves much to be desired.

Recently, remarks from Andrew Young ignited a discussion about the future of the iconic Olympic component as the area surrounding it prepares for a major overhaul. In a highly scientific Curbed Atlanta poll, the vast majority of voters said they’d like to see the cauldron moved to Centennial Olympic Park.

But according to Jeremy Levin, the concept isn’t new; rather, it's one rekindled from a discussion five years ago.

Levine helped lead an initiative known as the Atlanta Cauldron Group. Back before the 2012 London Olympics, the group initiated a major push to reinvigorate the cauldron.

In an email to Curbed Atlanta, Levin outlined what became of that big idea:

"The Atlanta-Fulton County Recreational Authority was very supportive and into the idea," he wrote. "They wanted the cauldron and its maintenance off their books. The GWCCA ,who runs the park, wanted nothing to do with the cauldron, though. They brought up how everyone called it ugly back in 1996. Made it very clear it wouldn't go in the park. Also spoke with World of Coke who said they didn't have any room for it. Buying land close to the park was too (cost) prohibitive."

For some, the fact that the cauldron isn’t more celebrated is surprising. In fact, around the base of the cauldron tower there is a park dedicated to the athletes of the games. But unfortunately, the location limits its appeal — currently in no-man's land, the parklet is surrounded on all four sides by vast parking lots.

If the cauldron ends up being moved, it wouldn’t be the first time. When the Braves took over the Olympic stadium and christened it Turner Field, they had no interest in keeping the cauldron looming over the outfield. The New York Times poked fun in 1997 with a headline "Does Anybody Want a Used Olympic Caldron?"

Thanks to $200,000 set aside by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, the cauldron and Erector-Set like tower were moved up the street and given to the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreational Authority.

The AJC reported the cost to move the cauldron back when it was proposed five years ago — amidst the Great Recession, no less — would likely have been over $1 million. With construction costs through the roof nowadays, there’s no doubt the price has likely increased.

But with the expansion and renovation of Centennial Olympic Park afoot — and public opinion clearly in favor of relocation — is it time to reignite discussion to move the cauldron?

Atlanta Olympic Torch Tower

445 Capitol Ave SW, Atlanta, GA 30312