In light of Atlanta “winning” the bid for the 2019 Super Bowl, we are going to take run around several future, current, former, and soon to be former sports related venues. This run isn’t a loop, so be prepared to carry a MARTA card or a phone with a ride sharing app in order to get back to the start, or just turn around and run it back.
We will start with a piece of history. In the middle of the Turner Field Green Lot is where we will begin. This is also the former spot of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Notice the paved brick below your feet and the single panel of outfield wall just ahead. This is the site of one of the most important moments in Atlanta Braves’ history. This is the spot Hank Aaron hit his 715 home run on April 8, 1974. As you stand there, think of the words of the great Vin Scully, “what a marvelous moment for Atlanta, and the State of Georgia, what a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking the record of an all-time baseball idol; and it is a great moment for all of us.” A monument to the past, and possibly (hopefully) the future home of the Georgia State Panthers’ baseball team. Get ready to go and head out of the parking lot towards Capitol Avenue and the intersection of Georgia Avenue. Once at the intersection head west onto Georgia Ave crossing in front of Turner Field.
As your making your way across the front of the stadium just outside the gates take a look at the monuments of Braves’ legends. The statues include the aforementioned Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn, Ty Cobb, and Phil Niekro. If the gate is open take a detour and run through the plaza and read the plaques on each of them. Heck, while you’re at it, buy a ticket to the next game to show your support before the team moves, they could use it. Turner field has been home to the Braves since 1997. Designed as the 1996 Olympic Stadium it was retrofitted for baseball has been home to several division championships, an All-Star game, countless beautiful Sunday afternoons and one horrible infield fly call.
We don’t just want to see the front of the ballpark so when you get to the intersection of Georgia Ave and Pollard Blvd, hang a left. This is Bill Lucas Drive and contains the media gate, the police station, and my personal favorite: the player’s parking lot. Autograph seekers will sit and wait before home games waiting to get the autograph of their favorite player, or the next big thing. If you are lucky, on a day of or before a road trip it is possible to see the team loading up the bus and heading to the airport. Wave, say hi, cheer do what you do, again, they could really use our support.
Once you hit Hank Aaron Drive make a left and head north back towards the front of the stadium and keep going up to the Olympic Torch. After crossing Fulton Street you will also be crossing under the Olympic Torch. Keep running north and look to your right and you will see the State Archives building on your right hand side.
Keep running on Capital Avenue until you see the Georgia State Capitol building on the left and Freedom Plaza on the right. The next street will be MLK Jr. Blvd; hang a left. The first part of this will be a welcome downhill after the trek up Capitol Avenue (again it’s Atlanta, deal with it). Take in the sights around you of all the marble buildings which make up the state courts and office buildings. Past those, as we make our way closer to Mercedes-Benz Stadium we will pass the Richard B. Russell Federal Building and the Sam Nunn Federal Courthouse building. Crossing over Ted Turner Drive and up the ramp to Centennial Olympic Park Drive and Andrew Young International Blvd we will see what will soon be home to the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta United Football Club.
Due to open in 2017 it will be a state of the art retractable dome facility. It will be the home of the College Football Playoffs, the NCAA Final Four, and the 2019 Super Bowl. It’s a marvel of modern stadium-ship. Built to make the NFL happy it will have everything the Falcons need to keep an ice storm away during Super Bowl weekend.
Up next, continuing on the same street, is Phillips Arena. Current home of the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Dream. Former home of the Atlanta Thrashers. As you continue on Andrew Young and want to take a detour run around to the front of Phillips Arena and take a look at the new Dominique Wilkins monument just outside the front of the arena.
Since I am on the subject of former arenas I should mention the Omni Coliseum. Built in 1972 and demolished in 1997 to make way for Phillips Arena it was home to two Atlanta hockey teams (Knights and Flames), the Atlanta Hawks, World Championship Wrestling, and Georgia Championship Wrestling.
If you are still on Andrew Young Intl Blvd keep heading straight and into Centennial Olympic Park. This is where the run ends. Enjoy the green space and try and find your brick if you have one. Stretch on the lawn or jump around in the fountains, it’s your choice. There are no pictures of the fountains since I was not so politely asked to leave the park since they were getting ready for the fireworks for Independence Day. Ironic, don’t you think?
It’s been a pleasure running with you and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.