Atlanta's former Centennial Olympic Stadium reopened in its third incarnation last night, with the Georgia State University Panthers’ home opener against Tennessee State University.
Now christened Parker H. Petit Field at GSU Stadium, the facility hosted college football for the first time in its 21-year existence. Remarkable, considering the Braves were playing there less than 11 months ago.
Built for the 1996 Olympics, the venue served as the track and field stadium as well as the stage for opening and closing ceremonies, before becoming Turner Field—home of the Atlanta Braves for 20 years.
Since Nov. 11, 2013, when the Braves announced they would decamp to Cobb County, the future of the stadium became a point of speculation. However, its destiny was secured when Georgia State University and private developer Carter announced a partnership to redevelop the stadium and its parking lots into a massive, mixed-use campus anchored by the school's sporting venues.
Construction began late last year to convert the baseball facility into a football stadium. In only a matter of months, the stadium was transformed from a baseball diamond to a 100-yard field. And while a lot of work has been done in preparation for the Panthers’ first season, much is left to do.
Plans call for the reconfiguration of more seating and the addition of amenities in coming years.
Eventually, the school will build new baseball facilities where the old Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium used to be, as well as dormitories and academic facilities on the surrounding parking lots.
Private development will fill the remainder of the sprawling site and extend into surrounding neighborhoods.
While the game wasn’t the result GSU would have hoped for (the Tigers had last bite, winning 17-10), the conversion definitely seemed like a score.