ATLANTA — It was a hot, steamy August afternoon in 1996 when I suddenly realized, I hadn’t actually seen an Olympic event despite the fact I had been covering it since the opening ceremonies.
So on a rare day off, I grabbed whatever ticket I could find to whatever event I could get to: Angola versus South Korea in Olympic basketball at the Georgia Dome.
That’s my first real Georgia Dome memory, and in two weeks, memories are all that will remain as crews prepare to implode the 25-year-old building.
WSB-TV is partnering with the Georgia World Congress Center Authority for a LIVE broadcast of the Georgia Dome demolition. WATCH Channel 2 Action News This Morning starting at 4:30 a.m. for LIVE Team 2 Coverage.
“A little bit of sadness,” former Georgia Dome general manager Carl Adkins said. “It’ll be tough to watch it, but while the building will be gone, the memories will remain.”
Few people have seen as many Georgia Dome events than Adkins.
He began as the Dome’s assistant GM before taking over the main job.
He remembers all the sporting events, but also the concerts, the convocations and the evangelical rallies, too.
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But most of all, he says he remembers all the people who worked so hard to get the Dome ready for big events.
“Team Dome,” Adkins said. “No other team like it The people, the dedication, the hours. We truly spent has much time in that building, more so than we did with our families.”
The list is impressive: 298 high school football games, 256 Atlanta Falcons games, 152 college football games, 74 Atlanta Hawks games, 64 entertainment shows, 57 band competitions, 35 concerts, 26 college basketball tournaments, 11 soccer matches, three Olympic events and two Super Bowls.
An estimated 39 million people have come and gone through the Dome’s doors.
Adkins also remembers how the Dome survived an almost direct hit by the 2008 tornado that did so much damage to downtown Atlanta, and how the building probably saved the lives of thousands of people inside during an SEC basketball tournament game.
And, he said, his crews had the Dome repaired and ready for another event in just 2 1/2 weeks.
While Adkins says he’ll be sad to see the Dome go, he’s looking forward to the future.
“While we can reminisce about the past, we can have these wonderful memories that last a lifetime,” Adkins said. “Life moves forward and we’re on to the next chapter.”
And my Olympic memory of the Georgia Dome, and the basketball ticket I still keep locked away, will remain, as well.
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