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The AJC’s Top 50: Complete list

The landscape of Atlanta sports changed in 2017.

Literally.

Stadiums were raised, razed and renovated.

There were many more significant moments in sports involving the city, it’s teams and people connected to our region.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution compiled and ranked a list of the 50 biggest moments and events in Atlanta sports for the year. Over the past 10 days, we revealed the list in ascending order, five at a time, until it culminated with the biggest and most defining moment today.

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Today: 1-5.

5. Georgia Dome implosion

It had a nice 25-year run, the Georgia Dome. Super Bowls and Final Fours were played there. Olympic gold medals were decided there in three sports. And there were 256 Falcons games, 23 SEC Championship football games, even WrestleMania -- in all 1,456 events attended by about 39 million people from 1992 through early this year. It came down, well, most of it, in 12 seconds on Nov. 19. Two portions of the building did not fall and were brought down with a second implosion on Dec. 21. The building is replaced by Mercedes-Benz Stadium, just yards away.

4. SunTrust Park opens

The Braves relocated to Cobb County, a monumental move north less than 20 miles from Turner Field. It was officially complete when the cozy park hosted a sellout crowd of 41,149 fans for a regular-season win over the Padres on April 14. The $672 million stadium, which included public money, is much more than a park. It included an entertainment district, The Battery, with restaurants, bars, retail and a concert venue that brought the total cost of the project to approximately $1.1 billion.

3. Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens

This is what $1.5 billion buys – a football palace complete with stat of the art amenities including the world’s largest halo video board. The home of the Atlanta Falcons and United opened on Aug. 26 with an NFL exhibition game against the Cardinals. The building already has a list of major events to host, including the college football national championship next month, Super Bowl LIII in 2019 and the NCAA men’s Final Four in 2020. In what was nearly a decade in the making and took 3-1/2 years to construct has become the crowned jewel of Atlanta stadiums.

2. John Coppolella receives lifetime ban

It perhaps the most shocking news to hit the Atlanta sports scene, Braves general manager John Coppolella was forced to suddenly resign his dream job on Oct. 2 as Major League Baseball opened an investigation of a breach of league rules regarding the international player market. It would get worse. Coppolella received a lifetime ban when baseball announced its penalties on Nov. 21. Commissioner Rob Manfred suggested Coppolella wasn’t truthful during the investigation. He joined the likes of Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose to receive a lifetime ban from the sport.

1. Falcons collapse to lose Super Bowl LI

28-3. No more really has to be said. The Falcons held the 25-point lead late in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI. They lost. A series of mistakes by the Falcons, including curious play-calling decisions and poor clock management, left the door open for quarterback Tom Brady to lead the Patriots to the biggest comeback victory in Super Bowl history. The Patriots scored 31 unanswered points to win 34-28 in overtime. The team, and the city, may never live down the epic failure. The Falcons spent the entire offseason, and still, being the NFL’s running joke. Perhaps only a Super Bowl victory will lighten the stain or lessen the sting of the improbable loss on the biggest stage.

The complete list:

1. Falcons collapse to lose Super Bowl LI

2. John Coppolella receives lifetime ban

3. Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens

4. SunTrust Park opens

5. Georgia Dome implosion

6. Falcons win NFC Championship

7. Georgia wins SEC Championship

8. John Schuerholz inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame

9. National Anthem protests

10. Matt Ryan named MVP

11. Falcons win divisional playoff

12. Atlanta United make playoffs

13. Braves hire GM Alex Anthopoulos

14. Hawks make over front office

15. Braves hit with substantial penalties

16. Hawks hire GM Travis Schlenk

17. Atlanta United sets MLS attendance record

18. Kyle Shanahan out/Steve Sarkisian in as Falcons OC

19. Philips Arena begins major renovation

20. Georgia Tech makes NIT final

21. Georgia reaches No. 1 in College Football Playoff rankings

22. Atlanta United gets first win

23. Mercedes-Benz Stadium roof problems

24. Hawks trade Dwight Howard

25. Atlanta United play first game

26. Braves finally find deal for new spring training home

27. Georgia Tech fails to make bowl game

28. Braves pick up 2018 option on Brian Snitker

29. Hawks blow up roster in youth movement

30. Freddie Freeman breaks wrist after MVP-caliber start

31. Hawks eliminated from playoffs by Wizards

32. Devonta Freeman signs big contract

33. Falcons’ PSL sales become issue

34. Brian McCann wins World Series with Astros

35. Falcons draft Takk McKinley

36. Hawks draft John Collins

37. Deshaun Watson leads Clemson to national championship

38. Tour Championship double winners

39. Sergio Garcia wins Masters

40. Brad Keselowski wins Atlanta NASCAR race

41. Hawks open practice facility

42. Ascension of Braves’ Ronald Acuna

43. Kennesaw football wins conference, goes to playoffs

44. Georgia State takes over Turner Field

45. John Isner wins fourth BB&T title

46. Georgia Swarm win National Lacrosse League title

47. Matt Stafford gets NFL-record contract

48. Braves release of Bartolo Colon

49. Rams hire Dunwoody’s Sean McVay

50. Warrick Dunn in Falcons Ring of Honor

Links

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Day Five

Day Six

Day Seven

Day Eight

Day Nine

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