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Q: How many venues were constructed specifically for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. How many of those are still being used?
—Loren Collins, Brookhaven
A: I find it tough to believe it's almost been 20 years since the 1996 Olympics came to Atlanta.
Construction occurred at a brisk pace heading into that summer, but the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (you probably remember ACOG) tried to incorporate existing facilities.
Of more than two dozen venues used for the Atlanta Games, six larger sites were specifically built for the Olympics.
ACOG took into account how those sites would be used after the athletes and fans left.
“We didn’t build anything big that is gathering dust,” Bob Brennan, the former ACOG press chief, said. “We built venues with an eye to what they would be used for later. The architects considered the use that would come after the games closed.”
- Olympic Stadium (track and field, ceremonies) was transformed into Turner Field.
- The aquatics center was built on Georgia Tech's campus and became a part of the student rec complex.
- Atlanta Beach (beach volleyball) is part of Clayton County International Park.
- Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers (the first Olympic mountain biking competition) features mountain-biking trails and hosts equestrian and biking competitions.
- The Wolf Creek Shooting Complex was built on county-owned land and now houses the Fulton County Public Service Training Center. An adjacent shooting range remains open, but was renamed Tom Lowe Shooting Grounds.
One site built specifically for the Olympics that has struggled is the tennis facility at Stone Mountain Park.
The velodrome and archery areas were re-purposed, but the tennis center fell into disrepair, and the Stone Mountain Memorial Association has struggled to break even with the facility.
It has looked for partners to revitalize the tennis center, but only a small office building remains in use.
“At this point, if we had the funding, we would remove it,” CEO Bill Stephens said. “But even that would cost a couple of million dollars.”
Venues that existed before the ‘96 Games included the Georgia Dome, the Georgia World Congress Center, what was then-Alexander Memorial Coliseum (now McCamish Pavilion) and Sanford Stadium in Athens.
But the next couple of years will bring more change to former Olympic venues as the Braves and Falcons head to new homes.
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