With the Georgia Dome set for implosion at 7:30 a.m. Monday, let’s take a last look back at the 25-year-old building’s considerable and wide-ranging place in Atlanta sports history.
Falcons: The Georgia Dome’s primary tenant from 1992 through last season, the Falcons played 256 games there – 199 in the regular season, seven in the postseason and 50 in the preseason. The team’s time in the Dome spanned coaches from Jerry Glanville to Dan Quinn and quarterbacks from Chris Miller to Matt Ryan. One of the Falcons’ biggest games in the Dome was their last: a 44-21 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game on Jan. 22, earning Atlanta a berth in the Super Bowl. The Falcons lost to the San Francisco 49ers 28-24 in the Dome’s other NFC title game four years earlier.
Super Bowl: The nation’s biggest sports event was played in the Georgia Dome twice. On Jan. 30, 1994, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills 30-13 in Super Bowl XXVIII. On Jan. 30, 2000, the St. Louis Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans 23-16 in Super Bowl XXXIV, which ended as Titans receiver Kevin Dyson was tackled by Rams linebacker Mike Jones at the 1-yard line, just short of sending the game into overtime.
Olympics: One of the more memorable moments of the 1996 Olympics occurred in the Dome, Kerri Strug famously landing a vault despite an injured ankle to clinch the United States’ first gold medal in women’s team gymnastics and then being carried in coach Bela Karolyi’s arms to the medal ceremony. The Dome also was the site of the U.S. “Dream Team II” winning the gold in men’s basketball, as well as the gold-medal match in men’s handball.
Hawks: While Philips Arena was being built to replace the Omni Coliseum, which was imploded in 1997, the Hawks divided their 1997-98 and 1998-99 home games between the Georgia Dome and Georgia Tech. In all, 74 Hawks games were played in the Dome. On March 27, 1998, an NBA-record 62,046 fans were there for Michael Jordan’s final game in Atlanta with the Bulls.
SEC Championship game: The SEC’s football title game was played in the Dome 23 times, from 1994 though 2016. Three times, the game matched teams ranked in the top three nationally in The Associated Press poll: No. 2 Florida defeated No. 1 Alabama in 2008; No. 2 Alabama defeated No. 1 Florida in 2009 and No. 2 Alabama defeated No. 3 Georgia in 2012.
Peach Bowl: The event moved from outdoors at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to indoors at the Dome in 1992 and grew from a struggling, lower-tier bowl into a host of a national semifinal last season. Alabama’s victory over Washington on Dec. 31 set an attendance record for all sports events at the Dome: 75,996.
Georgia State and other college football: In all, 152 college football games were played in the Dome. That includes, in addition to the SEC title games and Peach Bowls, 44 Georgia State games, 23 Atlanta Football Classics (1992-2014), 11 Chick-fil-A Kickoff games, seven Heritage Bowls (1993-99 seasons), two Celebration Bowls (2015-16) and assorted other games. One event was even relocated to the Dome by a hurricane: the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2, 2006.
Final Four: The men’s college basketball Final Four was played in the Georgia Dome three times, with Maryland winning the national championship there in 2002, Florida in 2007 and Louisville in 2013. A new configuration in 2013 put the court in the center of the stadium, leading to crowds of 74,000-plus. The women’s Final Four was played there in 2003, with Connecticut winning.
Other NCAA basketball tournament games: In addition to the Final Fours, NCAA men’s basketball tournament regional semifinals and finals were played in the Dome on five occasions.
SEC and ACC basketball tournaments: The Dome’s most famous conference tournament was the one that couldn’t be completed there. A tornado struck downtown Atlanta on the night of March 14, 2008, ripping a hole in the Dome’s roof while Mississippi State and Alabama were in overtime of an SEC quarterfinal. The tournament resumed the next day at Georgia Tech. In all, the Dome hosted 11 SEC tournaments and two ACC tournaments.
High school football: Some 298 high school football games were played in the Dome from 1992 through 2016, with 169 schools represented in those games. The state finals were played there from 2008 through 2016.
Soccer: Eleven soccer matches were played at the Dome, including six appearances by Mexico’s national team and one apiece by European clubs A.C. Milan and Manchester City. The semifinals of the 2015 Gold Cup international tournament, featuring the U.S. and Mexico in separate matches, drew about 64,000 fans.
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