Venues of the 1996 Summer Olympics

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For the 1996 Summer Olympics, a total of twenty-nine sports venues were used.

Several sports venues for the 1996 Olympics were built before the 1960s as college venues. The first professional teams in Atlanta came in 1966, when Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves moved from Milwaukee and the NFL added the Atlanta Falcons as an expansion team. In 1968, the NBA came to the city when the Atlanta Hawks arrived from St. Louis, and the NHL arrived four years later with the expansion Atlanta Flames.

The Braves and Falcons shared Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium from 1966 through 1991, after which the Falcons moved into the newly built Georgia Dome. The Braves would remain at the former stadium through the 1996 season. The Hawks initially played at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, now Hank McCamish Pavilion, on the campus of Georgia Institute of Technology (better known as Georgia Tech) before the Omni Coliseum was completed in 1972 for both the Hawks and Flames. After the 1979–80 season, the Flames left for their current home of Calgary.

Bidding for the 1996 Games was held in 1990. Seventy-five percent of the venues used for the 1996 Games were owned by the state of Georgia. One of the new venues, the Georgia International Horse Park, had organization issues for the modern pentathlon event that included the competitors being forced to sit under an oak tree during the riding part of the event. The Georgia World Congress Center hosted the dramatic weightlifting 64 kg event that involved national tensions between Greece and Turkey.

After the Olympics, the Olympic Stadium, as intended from its construction, was converted into a baseball park known as Turner Field, which opened in 1997. That same year, both Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium and the Omni Coliseum were imploded. The Omni was replaced by Philips Arena which opened in 1999, while the area where Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium stood is now a parking lot near Turner Field.

Olympic Ring

Venue Sports Capacity Ref.
Alexander Memorial Coliseum Boxing 10,000 12
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium Baseball 54,000 13
Clark Atlanta University Stadium Field hockey 5,000 14
Cycling road course Cycling (road) 800 56
Georgia Dome Basketball (final), Gymnastics (artistic), Handball (men's final) 34,500 (each side) 78
Georgia State University Gymnasium Badminton 3,500 37
Georgia Tech Aquatic Center Diving, Modern pentathlon (swimming), Swimming, Synchronized swimming, Water polo 15,000 79
Georgia World Congress Center Fencing, Handball, Judo, Modern pentathlon (fencing, shooting), Table tennis, Weightlifting, Wrestling 3,900 (fencing)
7,300 (handball)
7,300 (judo)
4,700 (table tennis)
5,000 (weightlifting)
7,300 (wrestling)
1011
Marathon course Athletics (marathon) 800 512
Morehouse College Gymnasium Basketball 6,500 513
Morris Brown College Stadium Field hockey (final) 15,000 45
Olympic Stadium Athletics, Ceremonies (opening/ closing) 85,600 514
Omni Coliseum Volleyball (indoor final) 16,500 1516
Walking course Athletics (walks) 800 512

Metro Atlanta

Venue Sports Capacity Ref.
Atlanta Beach Volleyball (beach) 12,600 117
Georgia International Horse Park Cycling (mountain bike), Equestrian, Modern pentathlon (riding, running) 32,000 718
Lake Lanier Canoeing (sprint), Rowing 17,300 1920
Stone Mountain Park Archery Center and Velodrome Archery, Cycling (track) 5,200 (archery)
6,000 (cycling track)
1521
Stone Mountain Tennis Center Tennis 27,500 2223
Wolf Creek Shooting Complex Shooting 7,500 2224

Other venues

Venue Location Sports Capacity Ref.
Florida Citrus Bowl Orlando, Florida Football 65,000 1
Golden Park Columbus, Georgia Softball 8,800 1925
Legion Field Birmingham, Alabama Football 81,700 19
Ocoee Whitewater Center Ducktown, Tennessee Canoeing (slalom) 14,400 526
Orange Bowl Miami, Florida Football 72,700 15
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium Washington, D.C. Football 56,500 15
Sanford Stadium Athens, Georgia Football (final) 86,100 1527
Stegeman Coliseum Athens, Georgia Gymnastics (rhythmic), Volleyball (indoor) 10,000 2228
Wassaw Sound Savannah, Georgia Sailing 1,000 2229

Before the Olympics

Georgia Dome in 2008. For the 1996 Summer Olympics, it hosted the artistic gymnastics, basketball, and the men's handball final.
Back of Stone Mountain from the Songbird Habitat and Trail in 2009. For the 1996 Summer Olympics, the venue hosted the archery and track cycling events.

Before professional sports came to Atlanta and the Southern United States in the 1960s, college sports were followed in a manner similar to that of professional sports in the New England, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwestern part of the United States. The oldest of the venues in the South used for the 1996 Games was Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama which was opened in 1926 and used from 1948 to 1988 for the Iron Bowl college football rivalry between Auburn University and the University of Alabama, a game that now alternates between the two schools' on-campus stadiums.3031 Legion Field hosted the SEC Championship Game for the first two seasons of 1992 and 1993 before the venue moved to Atlanta and the Georgia Dome in 1994 where it has remained as of 2013.32333435 Three years after Legion Field was completed, Sanford Stadium opened on the University of Georgia campus in Athens and has undergone several expansions since its opening.36 The Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida opened in 1936 and has undergone several expansions of its own.37 In Miami the following year, the Orange Bowl (known as Burdine Stadium until 1959) opened.38 Alexander Memorial Coliseum on the Georgia Tech campus opened in 1956.39

In 1961, the District of Columbia Stadium opened in Washington, D.C. with the National Football League (NFL) Washington Redskins losing 24-21 to the New York Giants.40 The Stadium (renamed as Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) Memorial Stadium in 1969 in honor of Robert F. Kennedy who had been assassinated the previous June) served as home to the second Washington Senators Major League Baseball (MLB) team from 1961 to 1971 when they moved to the Dallas, Texas area the following year and were renamed the Texas Rangers which they have been known ever since (the first Senators team were in Washington from 1901 to 1960 before relocating to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1961 and being renamed the Minnesota Twins, a name they have retained to this day).414243444546

Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium (Atlanta Stadium: 1965-76) opened on April 12, 1966 with the Braves MLB franchise debuting following their move from Milwaukee, Wisconsin after the 1965 season with a 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.4748 That same year in the NFL, the expansion Atlanta Falcons debuted with a 19-14 loss to the Los Angeles (now St. Louis) Rams.49 Fulton County Stadium (known locally) would serve as host to the Peach (now Chick-fil-A) Bowl from 1971 to 1991 before moving to the Georgia Dome where it has remained to this day.50 In baseball, Fulton County Stadium hosted the 1972 MLB All-Star Game.51 The Stadium would host three World Series in the 1990s before the Olympics, losing twice (1991 to the Twins in seven games and 1992 to the Toronto Blue Jays in six games. The latter loss was Toronto's revenge for losing out to Atlanta for the 1996 Games two years earlier.) and winning once (1995 to the Cleveland Indians in six games.).52535455 The Falcons would remain at Fulton County Stadium until the 1991 NFL season, then move to the Georgia Dome the following season, where they have remained to this day.5657

The Georgia Dome hosted Super Bowl XXVIII where the Buffalo Bills lost 30-13 to the Dallas Cowboys. It was the Bills' second straight Super Bowl loss to the Cowboys and fourth straight Super Bowl loss overall.58

The same year that the Falcons debuted in the NFL, the Miami Dolphins made their debut in the American Football League (AFL) at the Orange Bowl.59 The Dolphins would join the NFL in 1970 following the AFL-NFL merger.60 They would remain at the Orange Bowl until the 1987 NFL season when they moved to Joe Robbie (now Sun Life) Stadium the following year where they have remained to this day.6162 Five of the first thirteen Super Bowls took place at the Orange Bowl, including Joe Namath's New York Jets defeating Johnny Unitas's Baltimore (now Indianapolis) Colts 16-7 in Super Bowl III.6364656667

Following the 1967-68 National Basketball Association (NBA) season, the Hawks franchise moved from St. Louis, Missouri to Atlanta for the 1968-69 season.6869 The Hawks spent their first four seasons at Alexander Memorial Coliseum until construction at the Omni Coliseum (known locally as The Omni) was completed in 1972.70 The same season that the Hawks moved into the Omni also saw the debut of the National Hockey League Atlanta Flames as cohabitants.7172 The Flames would remain in Atlanta until the 1979-80 season before moving up to Calgary, Alberta, Canada the following season where they have remained ever since.7374 For the 1980-81 to the 1982-83 NHL season, the now-Calgary Flames played in the Stampede Corral, then moved to the Olympic (now Scotiabank) Saddledome for the 1983-84 season where they remain to this day.747576 Both Stampede Corral and the Saddledome served as venues for the Olympics when Calgary hosted in 1988.77 Other noted events hosted by The Omni were the 1977 NCAA Men's Final Four, the 1978 NBA All-Star Game, the 1988 Democratic National Convention, and the 1993 Women's Final Four.78798081

For the 1994 FIFA World Cup, RFK Stadium and the Citrus Bowl served as venues, including Round of 16 games. RFK Stadium's round of 16 game was between Spain and Switzerland, while the Citrus Bowl's was between the Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands.8283

Atlanta was awarded the 1996 Olympics at the 1990 International Olympic Committee meeting in Tokyo.84 Seventy-five percent of the existing sites used for the games were on property owned by the state of Georgia.85 Fifty additional sites would be acquired to used for logisitical needs.85 Venue design lasted from July 1992 to the end of 1994 for new venues while construction lasted from 1993 to March 1996. Among the new venues constructed, expanded, or retrofitted were Olympic Stadium (known locally at the time of the 1996 Games as Centennial Olympic Stadium), the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers (east of Atlanta), and the sailing (then yachting) venue at Wassaw Sound in Savannah.86 The velodrome and archery venues at Stone Mountain Park were temporary venues for the Games.87

During the Olympics

View of Alexander Memorial Coliseum from the southeast in 2006. The Coliseum hosted the boxing competitions for the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Finish tower at Lake Lanier (2010), site of canoe sprint and rowing competitions in the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Olympic Stadium witnessed American Carl Lewis win his fourth straight Olympic gold medal in the men's long jump. Lewis tied Al Oerter, who won four straight Olympic gold medals in the men's discus throw from 1956 to 1968. Oerter, who carried the Olympic flame into the Stadium during the Opening Ceremonies before handing it off to boxer Evander Holyfield, embraced Lewis after his win.88

Ocoee Whitewater Center on the Toccoa/Ocoee River was dry until 1950 though it was redirected into the dry riverbed in 1994. Water was released for 77 days into the course for training, a pre-Olympic event, and the Olympics themselves.89

Rain on the streets of Atlanta affected two of the four road cycling events. During the men's individual road time trial event, the race was held in an intermittent rain that became a deluge with the middle starters that created up to 6 in (15 cm) of flooding in downtown Atlanta. It cleared up by the time the last ten riders started their runs.90 In the women's individual road race, a downpour occurred midway through the event causing several racers to skid and fall as a result.91

The Georgia International Horse Park (known locally as The Horse Park) had the endurance part of the eventing competition begin at 7 AM EDT to combat Georgia's torrid summer heat. Mesh protected unshaded parts of the course to filter out ultraviolet light and misting fans were used to cool the horses along with 80 veterinarians on site and three available equine ambulances.92 In the individual dressage event at The Horse Park, kür, or freestyle dressage to music, was added to the competition. Germany Isabell Werth on Gigolo came from behind to win gold performing a medley that included "Just a Gigolo" and Monty Python's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life".93 Organizing issues in the modern pentathlon event affected spectators in their travels from downtown Atlanta to The Horse Park in Conyers 37 mi (60 km) away. This included lack of shuttle buses from parking to the competition sites 5 mi (8.0 km), forcing spectators to walk that distance. Modern pentathletes had to sit under one shady part of the oak tree during the riding portion of the event.94

During the men's 10 m air pistol shooting event at Wolf Creek, the ninth round of the final was halted when a fallen tree hit a power line and knocked out the electronic scoring system. The competition resumed after several minutes of delay. Italy's Roberto Di Donna came from behind to defeat China's Wang Yifu by 0.1 point. Wang collapsed in his chair and fainted suddenly. Stretcher bearers had trouble finding the medical center, but Wang recovered to take place in the men's free pistol event three days later.95

Georgia World Congress Center witnessed two dramatic events. At the table tennis women's singles final on 31 July, a five game final between China's Deng Yaping and Chinese Taipei (Taiwan/Republic of China)'s Chen Jing took place that had Deng leading 2-0 in the third game that was tied at 15 when a delay occurred. Taiwan was under IOC rules to compete as Chinese Taipei to appease the Chinese and could not use the national flag of Taiwan. One fan in the stand displayed his own Taiwanese flag, resulting in police arriving to remove the fan. Another fan responded by puching a policeman in the mouth and both fans were removed. Chen won the third game when play resumed, then tied the final by winning game four. Deng won the deciding game decisively to win the gold medal.96 Nine days earlier in the men's 64 kg (featherweight) weightlifting event, a battle between Turkey's Naim Süleymanoğlu and Greece's Valerios Leonidis had Greek fans sit on one side of the stands of the hall where the weightlifting events were held while the Turkish fans sit on the other side of the stands. The 2.5 hour final had the audience give both Süleymanoğlu and Leonidis standing ovations that was won by the Turk.97

After the Olympics

Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in 1997 before it was demolished that year. During the 1996 Summer Olympics, the stadium hosted the baseball competitions.
The Omni in 1977. For the 1996 Summer Olympics, it hosted the indoor volleyball competitions including the finals. The venue was demolished in 1997.

The Georgia World Congress Center, first opened in 1976 and expanded twice before the 1996 Olympics, was expanded again in 2002.98 As of 2010, the three buildings containing the twelve total exhibit halls had a total of 1,366,000 sq ft (126,900 m2).99

The Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, opened in 1977 as the Student Athletic Center. The venue was converted into the Aquatic Center for the 1996 Games. It was enclosed in 2004 and renamed the Georgia Tech Campus Recreation Center, which remains in use today.100

The temporary structures at Stone Mountain Park were removed after the 1996 Olympics. As of 2010, the former archery and track cycling venues are part of the songbird and habitat trail.101

Lake Lanier hosted the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in 2003, the only time they have ever been held in the United States.102

Atlanta Beach (now the Clayton County International Park) and The Horse Park continue to be used as of 2010 in their local communities of Jonesboro and Conyers, respectively.103104

The Hawks remained in The Omni for the 1996-97 NBA season.105 Following that season, the Hawks moved back to Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum.39 On July 26, 1997, The Omni was imploded to make way for a new arena for the Hawks and the NHL's expansion Thrashers.106 Alexander Memorial Coliseum and the Georgia Dome both served as home for the Hawks for the 1997-98 and the 1998-99 seasons while the new venue built on site of the former Omni was being constructed.39107108 Philips Arena, the new arena, opened in September 1999 and the Hawks moved in.109110 That same year, the Thrashers moved into Philips to join the NHL.111 The Hawks continue to use Philips Arena to this day,109 while the Thrashers would leave Atlanta after the 2010–11 season112 and become the current version of the Winnipeg Jets.113

The 1996 season would be the last one for the Braves at Fulton County Stadium.114 Fulton County Stadium played host to three games of the 1996 World Series where the team lost to the New York Yankees in six games.115 Fulton County Stadium was imploded on August 2, 1997 and is now a parking lot adjacent to the former Olympic Stadium.116

Following the 1996 Summer Paralympics, Olympic Stadium was retrofitted between September 1996 and April 1997 with the synthetic 400 m athletic track and 35,000 seats removed.117118 The new venue, now called Turner Field in honor of then-Braves owner and former Goodwill Games founder Ted Turner, opened on April 4, 1997 with a 5–4 win over the Chicago Cubs.118119 Turner Field hosted the 1999 World Series (swept by the Yankees) and the 2000 MLB All-Star Game.120121 On November 12, 2013, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed announced that Turner Field would be demolished in 2017, after the Braves move into a new stadium in Cobb County.122

The Georgia Dome hosted Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000 when the St. Louis Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans 23–16 in a game that came down to the final play.123 The venue also played host to the NCAA Men's Final Four in 2002, 2007, and 2013.124125126 The Dome has also been home to the football program of nearby Georgia State University since the team's inception in 2010.127 The Dome is now tentatively scheduled to be torn down in 2017 once the Falcons move into a new stadium that is planned to be built just to the south of the Dome.128

RFK Stadium has remained in use for (American) football, baseball, and soccer since the Games. In football, it hosted its last NFL game on December 22, 1996 with a 37-10 Redskins victory over the Dallas Cowboys.129 The Redskins moved to Jack Kent Cooke Stadium (FedExField since 2000) in Landover, Maryland (east of Washington, DC) the following season, making their debut at the stadium with a 19-13 overtime win over the Arizona Cardinals.130 Football would return to the stadium in 2008 with the debut of the EagleBank Bowl, a college football bowl game renamed the Military Bowl for 2010.131 The Military Bowl would continue to be held at RFK through the 2012 edition, after which it was moved to Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland.132

For the 2005 MLB season, RFK was put into use once again as a baseball venue after the relocation of the Montreal Expos to become the Washington Nationals. The Expos left their previous home at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, a 1976 Summer Olympic venue, after the 2004 season.133134 The Nationals made their debut at RFK a winning one, defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks 5–3 on April 14, 2005.135 The Nationals' final game at RFK Stadium was on September 23, 2007 with a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.136 The team opened its 2008 season in the new Nationals Park, also in the District, where it has remained ever since.137

RFK Stadium has seen its most enduring post-Olympics use as a soccer venue. It has been home to the Major League Soccer team D.C. United since the league's creation in 1996, and also hosted the MLS All-Star Game in 2002 and 2004.138 The Washington Freedom, a women's team originally in the defunct Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA), played its home games at RFK during the league's entire existence from 2001 to 2003. In 2009, the WUSA would be effectively relaunched as Women's Professional Soccer (WPS), with the Freedom returning as charter members and playing occasional home games at RFK.138 The stadium is no longer used for women's club soccer, as WPS folded just before its scheduled 2012 season, and the Washington team in the current National Women's Soccer League does not use RFK. In the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup, RFK Stadium hosted six games that included a 1–1 tie between Brazil and France.139 It has also hosted the USA men's national team 20 times, with the USA winning 12 of the matches—the most wins by the USA at any single stadium.138

The Orange Bowl was demolished in 2008,38 with the site now redeveloped as Marlins Park, a baseball stadium which now serves as the home of the Miami Marlins.

Alexander Memorial Coliseum remains home to the Georgia Tech men's and women's basketball teams. In 2010, the Institute announced that the facility would undergo a major renovation, and would be renamed Hank McCamish Pavilion, after the patriarch of the family that contributed one-third of the $45 million cost. During the 2011–12 season, the teams played at Philips Arena and the Arena at Gwinnett Center in suburban Duluth; the renovated arena reopened in November 2012.140

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