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Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
"The Launching Pad"
250px
Location 521 Capitol Avenue SE
Atlanta, Georgia 30312
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Broke ground April 15, 1964
Opened April 12, 1965
Closed October 24, 1996
Demolished August 2, 1997
Owner City of Atlanta and Fulton County
Operator City of Atlanta and Fulton County
Surface Grass
Construction cost $18 million
($125 million in 2019 dollars[1])
Architect Heery & Heery
FABRAP
Structural engineer Prybyloski & Gravino[2]
Services engineer Lazenby & Borum[2]
General Contractor Thompson & Street Co.[3]
Former names Atlanta Stadium (1965-1976)
Tenants Atlanta Braves (MLB) (1966-1996)
Atlanta Falcons (NFL) (1966-1991)
Atlanta Chiefs (NASL) (1967-1969), (1971-1972), (1979-1981)
Atlanta Crackers (AAA) (1965)
Peach Bowl (NCAA) (1971-1991)
Capacity Baseball: 52,007
Football: 60,606
Field dimensions 1966-68 & 1974-96
Left field - 330 ft.
Left-Center - 385 ft.
Center Field - 402 ft.
Right-Center - 385 ft.
Right Field - 330 ft.

1969-1972
Left field - 330 ft.
Left-Center - 375 ft.
Center Field - 402 ft.
Right-Center - 375 ft.
Right Field - 330 ft.

1973
Left field - 330 ft.
Left-Center - 375 ft.
Center Field - 402 ft.
Right-Center - 385 ft.
Right Field - 330 ft.
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Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, often shortened to "Fulton County Stadium" and originally known simply as Atlanta Stadium, was a multi-purpose stadium that formerly stood in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. The stadium was built to attract a Major League Baseball team, which it did in 1966 when the Milwaukee Braves moved from Wisconsin to Georgia to play. The Braves and Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League shared the venue from 1966 until 1991, when the Falcons moved into the specifically-built for them Georgia Dome. The Braves stayed at Fulton County Stadium until the end of the 1996 season, when they moved into a converted Centennial Olympic Stadium, which was built for the 1996 Summer Olympics that were held in Atlanta and was renamed Turner Field once the Braves moved in.

HistoryEdit

In 1964, Mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. announced that an unidentified Major League Baseball team had given him a verbal commitment to move to Atlanta, provided a stadium was in place by 1966. Soon afterward, the prospective team was revealed to be the Milwaukee Braves, who announced in October that they intended to move to Atlanta for the 1965 season. However, court battles kept the Braves in Milwaukee for a lame-duck season.[4]

The new stadium was built on the site of the cleared Washington-Rawson neighborhood, which 50 years previously was a wealthy neighborhood home to Georgia's governor, among others, but which by the 1960s had fallen on hard times. The stadium was completed in 50 weeks for $18 million, and opened in the spring of 1965 as Atlanta Stadium. The new stadium had a lame duck of its own for that first season: the Atlanta Crackers of the International League, whose previous home had been Ponce de Leon Park. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings played the first NFL preseason game on August 14, 1965. In its first year it also hosted Atlanta's only Beatles concert, August 18, 1965. In 1966, both the NL's transplanted Braves and the NFL's expansion Atlanta Falcons moved in. In 1967, the Atlanta Chiefs of the National Professional Soccer League (re-formed as the North American Soccer League in 1968) began the first of five seasons played at the stadium.[5] In a move intended to acknowledge the financial contributions of the taxpayers of Fulton County, the stadium's name was changed to the hyphenated Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in 1976, the same year that Ted Turner purchased the Braves.[6] The Falcons moved to the Georgia Dome in 1992, while the Braves had to wait until the Olympic Stadium from the 1996 Summer Olympics was transformed into Turner Field to move out at the beginning of the 1997 season. The stadium sat 60,606 for football and 52,007 for baseball. The baseball competition for the 1996 Summer Olympics was held at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

LayoutEdit

The stadium was relatively nondescript, one of the many saucer-shaped multi-purpose stadia built during the 1960s and 1970s, similar to RFK Stadium, Shea Stadium, the Astrodome, Three Rivers Stadium, Busch Memorial Stadium, Qualcomm Stadium, Riverfront Stadium, and Veterans Stadium.

As was the case for every stadium that used this design concept, the fundamentally different sizes and shapes of baseball and football fields made it inadequate for both sports. In the baseball configuration, 70 percent of the seats were in foul territory.[4] In the football configuration, seats on the 50-yard-line—normally prime seats for football—were more than 50 yards away from the sidelines.[7] One unusual feature of this stadium is the fact that, unlike most multi-purpose stadiums - where the football field was laid either parallel to one of the foul lines or running from home plate to center field - the football field here was laid along a line running between first and third base. Oakland Coliseum has a similar configuration.[8] Thus, a seat behind home plate for baseball would also be on the 50-yard line for football. The stadium was refurbished for the 1996 season prior to hosting the Olympic baseball competition.[9][10]

It was also known for the playing field's poor quality. Until 1989, it didn't have full-time groundskeepers. Instead, it was tended by a municipal street-maintenance crew.[11]

Due to the relatively high elevation of the Atlanta area (situated at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains), the stadium boasted the highest elevation in baseball when it opened, at 1,050 feet above sea level. It retained this distinction until the Colorado Rockies were born in 1993. The high elevation made it favorable to home run hitters, resulting in the nickname "The Launching Pad."[12]

The Native American mascot called "Chief Noc-A-Homa" was prominently featured during the team's first 20 years in Atlanta.

Fulton County Stadium was designed by a joint-venture team of FABRAP (Finch Alexander Barnes Rothschild & Paschal) and Heery, Inc.

Seating CapacityEdit

BaseballEdit

  • 51,500 (1965)
  • 50,893 (1966–1967)
  • 51,383 (1968–1972)
  • 52,744 (1973)
  • 52,870 (1974–1975)
  • 51,556 (1976–1978)
  • 52,532 (1979)
  • 52,194 (1980–1981)
  • 52,934 (1983)
  • 52,785 (1984)
  • 53,046 (1985)
  • 52,006 (1986)
  • 52,003 (1987–1989)
  • 52,007 (1989–1993)
  • 52,013 (1994)
  • 52,710 (1995)
  • 52,769 (1996)

FootballEdit

  • 56,990 (1965)
  • 58,850 (1966–1977)
  • 60,373 (1978)
  • 60,755 (1979)
  • 60,763 (1980–1984)
  • 59,709 (1985–1986)
  • 59,643 (1987–1996)

Historic and notable events in Atlanta-Fulton County StadiumEdit

On August 18, 1965 The Beatles performed at the stadium in their only live performance in Atlanta during their 1965 US Tour.

On April 12, 1966, Joe Torre hit the first major league home run in the history of the Atlanta stadium.[13] In 1972, the stadium hosted the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Hank Aaron hit a home run during the game, and the National League won the game 4–3 in 10 innings. On April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron became baseball's all-time career home run leader by hitting his 715th home run off the Los Angeles Dodgers' Al Downing.

During a series between the Braves and the San Diego Padres, one game spawned several brawls between the two teams. On August 12, 1984, Braves pitcher Pascual Perez hit the Padres' Alan Wiggins with a pitch; Wiggins did not charge the mound, but the Padres vowed revenge on Perez for his actions (several Padres were ejected in their subsequent attempts to hit Perez). When Perez was finally hit, by a pitch thrown by the Padres' Craig Lefferts, the first of many bench-clearing brawls began. By the time the game was over, both teams' lineups had been nearly emptied (due to all the ejections on both sides).[14]

On June 4, 1986, future home run king Barry Bonds hit his first career home run off of Craig McMurtry as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The stadium hosted the World Series for the first time in 1991 when the Braves played the Minnesota Twins in what ESPN judged to be the best World Series ever played.[15] The Braves won all three games played in Atlanta, two in their final at-bat, but lost the series in seven games.

The 1992 World Series saw the Braves play the Toronto Blue Jays with the Blue Jays defeating the Braves four games to two, including two of three in Atlanta.

On July 20, 1993, a fire occurred in the stadium press box during batting practice for that evening's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. This fire occurred on the same day that Fred McGriff joined the Braves.

On October 10, 1995, the Braves clinched the 1995 NLDS the 1st team to win a Division Series since the NLDS format in the playoff system began that same year. They defeated the Colorado Rockies 3 games to 1, with the decisive win at home.

On October 28, 1995, the Braves clinched the 1995 World Series by defeating the Cleveland Indians 1-0 on a one-hit, 8-inning performance by pitcher Tom Glavine. The title was the Braves' first World Series championship in Atlanta, making one title in each of the three cities in which they have resided (also Boston and Milwaukee).

The stadium's final event was Game 5 of the 1996 World Series, when the Braves played host to the New York Yankees. The final score was 1-0 in favor of the Yankees, with the ballpark's final run scored by Charlie Hayes. The winning pitcher was New York's Andy Pettitte, defeating the Braves' John Smoltz. The final hit was recorded by Atlanta's Chipper Jones, who doubled off of Pettitte in the bottom of the ninth inning. Pinch-hitter Luis Polonia was the final out in Fulton County Stadium's history, hitting a deep fly ball to right-center field that was caught by Yankee right fielder Paul O'Neill, which gave the stadium's final save to John Wetteland. (Since no home runs were hit in that game the final home run in the stadium's history belongs to Jim Leyritz, who hit a 3-run home run in Game 4.)

DemolitionEdit

Following the Olympics, Fulton County commissioner, Marvin S. Arrington, Sr., had a plan to save the stadium and use it as a professional soccer arena and share the parking facilities between it and Turner Field but he was unable to push it through.[16] The stadium was imploded on August 2, 1997. A parking lot for Turner Field now stands on the site, with an outline of the old stadium built in. The monument that marked the landing point of Hank Aaron's historic 715th home run stands in the same place it did when the stadium was on the site.

The stadium was demolished in the same week as another Atlanta sports venue, the Omni Coliseum. That arena was the former home of the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and the NHL's Atlanta Flames, and was replaced by Philips Arena on the same site.

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

Events and tenants
Preceded by
First stadium
Home of the
Atlanta Falcons

1966 – 1991
Succeeded by
Georgia Dome
Preceded by
Milwaukee County Stadium
Home of the
Atlanta Braves

1966 – 1996
Succeeded by
Turner Field
Preceded by
Grant Field
Home of the
Peach Bowl

1971 – 1991
Succeeded by
Georgia Dome
Preceded by
Tiger Stadium
Host of the All-Star Game
1972
Succeeded by
Royals Stadium

Template:Atlanta Braves



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