Omni Coliseum

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Omni Coliseum
"The Omni"
Omni 2.jpg
The Omni in 1977
Location 100 Techwood Drive
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
United States
Coordinates 33°45′27″N 84°23′48″W / 33.75750°N 84.39667°W / 33.75750; -84.39667Coordinates: 33°45′27″N 84°23′48″W / 33.75750°N 84.39667°W / 33.75750; -84.39667
Owner City of Atlanta
Operator City of Atlanta
Capacity Basketball:
16,181 (1972-1977),
16,400 (1977-1984),
16,522 (1984-1987),
16,451 (1987-1988),
16,371 (1988-1990),
16,390 (1990-1991),
16,425 (1991-1992),
16,441 (1992-1993),
16,368 (1993-1994),
16,378 (1994-1997)
Hockey:
15,078 (1972-1973),
15,141 (1973-1977),
15,155 (1977-1983),
15,278 (1984-1997)
Construction
Broke ground March 30, 1971[1]
Opened October 14, 1972
Closed May 11, 1997
Demolished July 26, 1997
Construction cost $17 million
($95.8 million in 2014 dollars[2])
Architect Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates
Structural engineer Prybylowski and Gravino, Inc.[3]
General contractor Ira H. Hardin Company[3]
Tenants
Atlanta Hawks (NBA) (1972–1997)
Atlanta Flames (NHL) (1972–1980)
Atlanta Chiefs (NASL Indoor) (1979–1981)
Atlanta Attack (AISA/NPSL) (1989–1991)
Atlanta Knights (IHL) (1992–1996)
Atlanta Fire Ants (RHI) (1994)

The Omni Coliseum, often called The Omni, from the Latin for "all", or "every", was an indoor arena located in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. Completed in 1972, the arena seated 16,378 for basketball and 15,278 for hockey. It was part of the Omni Complex, now known as the CNN Center.

It was mainly used as home stadium for the Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and the Atlanta Flames (NHL). It also hosted the 1977 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament and the 1996 Summer Olympics indoor volleyball.

History[edit]

This arena was considered an architectural marvel when first constructed, combining innovative design for the roof, seating, and the structure itself. The logo is based on the unique seating arrangement. The exterior was composed of Cor-Ten weathering steel, which was supposed to seal itself by continuing to rust, making a solid steel structure that would last for decades. The Omni was noted for its distinctive space frame roof, often joked about as looking like an egg crate or a rusty waffle iron. Designed by the firm of Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates with structural engineering work by the firm of Prybylowski and Gravino, the roof was technically described as an ortho-quad truss system.

Scoreboard[edit]

The only remaining reminder is the scoreboard from the Omni that now hangs in the pavilion of the Philips Arena. That scoreboard, a basketball-specific scoreboard, was created by American Sign and Indicator in the early 1980s to replace a hockey-specific scoreboard that was the arena's original scoreboard, but was maintained by Daktronics during the 1990s. As well, the arena contained on each end zone four messageboards, two of which were animation boards.

Events[edit]

Professional wrestling[edit]

The Omni was a hotbed for professional wrestling throughout its existence. It was considered the home base for the NWA's Georgia Championship Wrestling since its opening, Jim Crockett Promotions in the late 80's, and WCW. Many major and historic wrestling events were held there, including Starrcade 85, Starrcade 86, Starrcade 89, the first Wargames match during the Great American Bash in 1987, and many other PPV shows. The WWE also held shows at the Omni many times when they were known as the WWF.

Basketball and hockey[edit]

The Omni was home to the NBA Atlanta Hawks from 1972 to 1997; their final game at the Omni was during the 1997 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Chicago Bulls (Game 4) on May 11, 1997; they lost 89-80. The Omni was also home of the NHL Atlanta Flames from 1972 to 1980 (now the Calgary Flames), and the IHL Atlanta Knights (1992–1996). The Knights were the only pro team to win a championship in the building by winning the Turner Cup in 1994. The arena also hosted the 1977 NCAA Final Four, won by Marquette University over North Carolina in what was Warriors' (their nickname at the time, now known as the Golden Eagles) coach Al McGuire's last game, one SEC and three ACC men's basketball tournaments, the 1978 NBA All-Star Game, the 1993 NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four, and the indoor volleyball matches for the 1996 Summer Olympics. The Flames were replaced by the Atlanta Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets), who began play in 1999 after the Omni was demolished and Philips Arena was built.

Indoor soccer[edit]

The Omni also served as the indoor home of the Atlanta Chiefs of the North American Soccer League as well as the Atlanta Attack of the American Indoor Soccer Association.

Concerts[edit]

  • Elvis Presley performed a total of 12 times in 3 years between 1973 and 1976.
  • The Police performed 2 consecutive shows during their Synchronicity Tour on November 2–3, 1983, with The Fixx as their opening act. Excerpts of these shows were featured on the 1984 Synchronicity Concert VHS, the 2005 DVD release and on disc 2 of their live album, entitled Live!.
  • Def Leppard performed 4 shows during their Hysteria World Tour on December 18, 1987, with Tesla as their opening act and October 7–9, 1988, with Queensrÿche as their opening act. Their 1988 shows were filmed and recorded, with portions of them included on their live album, entitled Live: In the Round, in Your Face.
  • Journey performed 2 consecutive shows during their Raised on Radio Tour on November 18–19, 1986, with Glass Tiger as their opening act. They filmed the live music video for their song "I'll Be Alright Without You" during these shows.
  • The Grateful Dead performed 3 consecutive shows during their Built to Last Tour on April 1–3, 1990. The shows were recorded and 3 songs from their April Fool's Day show "China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider" and "Dear Mr. Fantasy" were included on their live album, entitled Without a Net.
  • R.E.M. concluded their Monster World Tour with 3 consecutive shows on November 18–19 and 21, 1995, with Luscious Jackson as their opening act. The shows were filmed and recorded, with the final show released as a documentary-style film, entitled Road Movie.
  • Phish performed their 3rd Halloween "Musical Costume" show, during their Billy Breathes Tour, on October 31, 1996. In between their own 2 sets, they performed The Talking Heads' 4th album, Remain in Light, in its entirety, which was filmed, recorded and later released as a live album, entitled Live Phish Volume 15.

Among the major non-sports events hosted at the Omni was the 1988 Democratic National Convention, which nominated Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen for President and Vice President of the United States, respectively. The Republican ticket of George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle won the election.

Problems[edit]

Bird's eye view of the Omni Coliseum

The Omni did not last nearly as long as several other arenas built during the same time period, in part because some of its innovations didn't work as intended. The most serious problem was the weathering steel. As noted above, it was designed to rust so a protective seal would form around the building. However, the designers reckoned without Atlanta's humid subtropical climate, which put so much stress on the steel that it never stopped rusting. By the 1980s, the steel had so badly corroded that holes began appearing that were large enough for people to crawl through. Chain link fences were installed in a number of locations to keep people from crawling though the wall to see events. Despite fairly good sight lines, the structure had the outward appearance of looking dated by the early-1990s (although the arena was only 20 years old).

Built on a former railroad yard, it settled more than its designers expected after construction. There were unanticipated stresses in the space frame roof, which often leaked water.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a growing number of NBA and NHL teams started constructing new arenas with better amenities for their high-end customers, such as luxury boxes, club-level seating, and massive club concourses, in order to increase their revenue streams. Some of these new arenas had as many as 200 luxury boxes. By comparison, the Omni had only 16 luxury boxes and no club level at all. It also became a disadvantage to the city of Atlanta; until the Georgia Dome was finished in 1992, the Omni served as its largest indoor facility in terms of seating capacity.

Although the Omni hosted many events, it lost more than its share due to the smaller capacity and lack of amenities when compared to newer buildings in other cities. By the start of the 1990s, a collective effort began to build a replacement. A new arena would have likely been needed in any event due to the Omni's structural problems. This also stemmed from the desire of Ted Turner to own an NHL franchise; the Flames had been sold to Canadian businessmen and relocated to Calgary, Alberta a decade earlier. However, the NHL determined that the Omni was not suitable even as a temporary facility, and would only grant an expansion team to Atlanta if Turner guaranteed a brand-new arena that would be in place by the time the new team took the ice for the first time. On July 26, 1997, the Omni was demolished, and Philips Arena, which was constructed on the former site of the Omni, opened on September 18, 1999.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Georgia News Briefs". Rome News-Tribune. March 30, 1971. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  2. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  3. ^ a b http://www.modernsteel.com/archives/PDFs_61-90/1975A9_15-1.pdf
Events and tenants
Preceded by
Alexander Memorial Coliseum
Home of the
Atlanta Hawks

19721997
Succeeded by
Georgia Dome &
Alexander Memorial Coliseum
Preceded by
none
Home of the
Atlanta Flames

19721980
Succeeded by
Stampede Corral
Preceded by
The Spectrum
NCAA Men's Division I
Basketball Tournament
Finals Venue

1977
Succeeded by
The Checkerdome
Preceded by
MECCA Arena
Host of the
NBA All-Star Game

1978
Succeeded by
Pontiac Silverdome