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The AJC’s Top 50 - Nos. 41-45

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 in Atlanta sports for the year. Over 10 days, we will reveal the list in ascending order, five at a time, until it culminates with the biggest and most defining moment on Dec. 26.

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Today: 41-45.

45. John Isner wins fourth BB&T title

The former University of Georgia tennis star has made a home in Atlanta competing in the BB&T tournament. Isner has 12 career titles since turning pro in 2007, including four Atlanta crowns. After winning from 2013-15, he finished runner-up last year. But he reclaimed his crown on July 30 with a 7-6, 7-6 win over Ryan Harrison. He has a 27-4 record at the tournament. Isner has been ranked as high as No. 9 in the world.

44. Georgia State takes over Turner Field

When the Braves bolted for Cobb County (we suspect you will hear more about that later) much was questioned about the future of the building that housed the 1996 Olympics and the baseball team from 1997-2016. In August 2016, Georgia State University and the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority reached a purchase agreement to convert the facility into a 30,000-seat football stadium. The sale was completed on Jan. 5 and construction soon began. The Panthers first game in the stadium was Aug. 31, a 17-10 loss to Tennessee State. Georgia State ended a successful season with a 7-5 record and a 27-17 victory over Western Kentucky in the Cure Bowl on Dec. 16.

43. Kennesaw football wins conference, goes to playoffs

Just three years after beginning a football program, Kennesaw State captured the Big South Conference championship with a 52-21 victory over Monmouth on Nov. 18. The Owls finished the regular season with a 10-1 record. Kennesaw State would make the FCS playoffs as an unseeded team and proceeded to defeat Samford, 28-17, on Nov. 25 and No. 3 Jacksonville State, 17-7, on Dec. 2. The season came to a close with a 34-27 loss to Sam Houston State in the quarterfinals on Dec. 9.

42. Ascension of Braves’ prospect Ronald Acuna

One of the top-rated prospects in all of baseball, Acuna has become a focus of the Braves future. The outfield was named Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year and was the MVP of the Arizona Fall League. He is the youngest player to win the MVP honor and the second teenager at 19 years old. Acuna, who turns 20 today could make his major league debut as soon as next season. The Braves created an outfield spot with the recent trade in Matt Kemp.

41. Hawks open practice facility

The Hawks said goodbye to their cramped practice quarters at Philips Arena – and it’s often leaky roof – a year after breaking ground on a palatial facility in Brookhaven. 

The Hawks teamed with Emory on the $50 million facility that also houses the school’s sports medicine division. The Hawks held their first workout in the building on Oct. 24 (complete with coach Mike Budenholzer doing actual cartwheels) and a grand opening on Nov. 8. The Hawks hope the building will provide high-tech care for players and attract free agents.

The list so far:

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

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