The Dome debuted in August of 1992 as the Falcons won a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. MC Hammer performed a pre-game concert (one of the few items the Georgia Dome may have outlived was MC Hammer’s career) and John Denver sang the national anthem. Twenty-five years later, the Georgia Dome secured its place on every “9 short-lived sports venues” list likely put together.
It was a brisk morning in Atlanta, hovering in the 40s, as fans, VIPs and the curious (and one strategically placed MARTA bus) lined up on Ivan Allen Boulevard for some prime outside (and free) viewing of the implosion. Downtown hotel rooms were booked up and picked early.
Allie Hartman and her husband Dave, owners of 404 Proud, an Atlanta themed t-shirt company, had booked a room at the Westin to watch the implosion and even chose to check in early to be sure and get a room on the Dome side of the hotel. As it turned out though, checking in early was not early enough. Some guests had arrived at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning to be sure and request the Dome view. Other guests, in town over the weekend, learned of the event on Monday and decided to stay an extra day (the next time a new stadium is requested somewhere – hopefully not in Atlanta, look for supporters to mention the economic impact of implosions).
The Hartmans ended up watching the implosion from a friends’ apartment on Peachtree Street. Their favorite memories from the Dome were of attending numerous SEC Championships. Dave is a University of Florida grad and for those not aware, the lifetime of the Dome has seen a pretty good run by the Gators – 10 of the 23 SEC Championships played in the Georgia Dome had a Florida team in it.
This being the week of Thanksgiving, a lot of kids were able to attend the viewing. Their fondest memory of the Dome will likely be that time it blew up on itself. They weren’t born when the Olympics came to Atlanta and Kerri Strug became a household name or Dream Team III dominated Yugoslavia (a country that doesn’t exist anymore) in the championship to win a gold medal.
The debate about the economic worthiness of building a new stadium and tearing down the Dome will probably never end. Critics contend the Dome was still a great stadium, even hosting the Final Four In 2013. Supporters of the new stadium say the economic impact of the new stadium – including extra tickets sold and new events such as another Super Bowl – is well worth the cost. Unfortunately for the critics, beyond arguing there’s not a whole lot to do at this point. Judging by the behavior of professional sports leagues in the United States however, that argument will be coming to another city very soon – just hopefully not in Atlanta for a long time.
*On a personal note, this reporter’s fondest memory of the Dome is when he took his then-girlfriend, now wife, to see her alma mater LSU play UGA (my favorite team) in the 2011 SEC Championship. UGA basically got steam-rolled. The game was terrible but the company was great.