USOC Chief Exec: Atlanta 1996 Olympic Stadium Has Been “Extremely Successful” Despite Short Lifespan
Turner Field, originally the Centennial Olympic Stadium built as the centerpiece for Atlanta 1996, has provided a legacy even though it faces the prospect of being pulled down after only 20 years, it has been claimed by Scott Blackmun, chief executive of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
The Stadium faces an uncertain future after Major League Baseball team Atlanta Braves announced last month they planned to quit it to relocate to a new arena out of the city.
The Braves have now gained the necessary Government approval to move forward with their plans to construct a new $672 million, 42,000-capacity stadium and a surrounding mixed-use development in Cobb County before the start of the 2017 season.
Cobb County Commission has approved a Memorandum of Understanding that will use $300 million in public funds to help build the complex that will include an entertainment area, restaurants, shops, a hotel and residential options.
Braves executives have complained that Turner Field’s downtown location restricts attendances because of traffic into the city and a shortage of on-site parking.
Talks with Atlanta Fulton County Recreational Authority, which owns Turner Field, about improving facilities broke down earlier this year.
But Blackmun has insisted that although the Centennial Olympic Stadium will probably soon disappear from the Atlanta skyline, it does not undermine the legacy of the 1996 Games.
“I think the Atlanta Braves have put great use to that stadium for almost the last 20 years,” said Blackmun.
“Useful lives of those stadiums is not much beyond that on many occasions.
“I completely understand the decision that the Braves have made.
“It’s kind of a sad moment but that’s what happens when you have public private partnerships.
“This one was extremely successful if you look at the incredible use that they got out of that venue over the last 20 years.
“They got more use out of that venue than any Olympic Stadium in history if you look at the number of times it was used after the Games.”
Contact the writer of this story at email@example.com. Insidethegames is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.