Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium: The Launching Pad

The 1960’s was a time of progress in our country. Large cars, booming business and the introduction of rock and roll brought about many changes. Atlanta Georgia was a city that needed to move forward with the times. The decision in 1964 for the then, non-identified Major League Baseball organization to offer a verbal commitment to Atlanta created the grounds to build a stadium. In 1965 the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was opened, having taken only 50 weeks to construct.

The fast design and build of the stadium proved to be one of its downfalls. Pretty much a plain-Jane of the industry, it was built in a saucer-shape so that it could accommodate multiple sports events. The one insight of the designer was to place the football field in a different location than the ‘sister’ stadiums of its day. Atlanta was already over 1,000 feet above sea level, so that the Atlanta stadium had the unique circumstance of being known as “The Launching Pad”. The only major downfall was the bad quality of the playing field itself. City of Atlanta maintenance crews were employed to care for the field until 1989 when groundskeepers were hired.

The seating for fans started out at almost 51,000 and, over the years increased to almost 53,000 for baseball and over 60,000 for football. The mascot of the stadium was typical of its time. Choosing a Native American concept, the mascot was referred to as “Chief-Noc-A-Homa”.

Famous performances included the Beatles in 1965. Famous games included host to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 1972 where a home run was hit by Hank Aaron. In 1991 the venue was also home to the World Series with the teams of the Braves and the Minnesota Twins. The news media channel ESPN announced that this game was deemed “the best World Series ever played”.

There was some rather questionable press in one of the 1984 games. The San Diego Padres and the Braves were playing when several fights broke out between the team players. It was such a rough that Pascual Perez, the Braves pitcher, struck Alan Wiggins of the Padres with one of his pitches. So many ejections had occurred during the game that, in the end, the lineups for both teams were almost nil.

In the late 90’s, Marvin S. Arrington, Sr., the Fulton County commissioner made a grand attempt to save Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium for a soccer arena and parking area. When he was unable to get the recommendation passed, the decision was made to demolish the stadium. In 1997, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was imploded and used as a Turner Field parking lot. A monument was placed as a marker on the area of Hank Aaron’s home run.

Atlanta experienced a double blow loss as another sports venue; the Omni Coliseum was also destroyed. The Omni site was eventually replaced with the Phillips Arena.

The Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium had a great history as home of the Atlanta teams of the Braves, the Falcons, the Chiefs, the Crackers and was host to the Peach Bowl for the twenty year span of 1971-1991.

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