The Omni in 1977
|Location||100 Techwood Drive
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
|Broke ground||March 30, 1971|
|Opened||October 14, 1972|
|Closed||May 11, 1997|
|Demolished||July 26, 1997|
|Owner||City of Atlanta|
|Operator||City of Atlanta|
|Construction cost||$17 million
($95.8 million in 2014 dollars)
|Architect||Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates|
|Structural engineer||Prybylowski and Gravino, Inc.|
|General contractor||Ira H. Hardin Company|
|Atlanta Hawks (NBA) (1972–1997)
Atlanta Flames (NHL) (1972–1980)
1977 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament
Atlanta Chiefs (NASL Indoor) (1979–1981)
Democratic National Convention (1988)
Atlanta Attack (AISA/NPSL) (1989–1991)
Atlanta Knights (IHL) (1992–1996)
Atlanta Fire Ants (RHI) (1994)
1996 Summer Olympics (indoor volleyball venue)
The Omni Coliseum, usually 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.
Demolished in 1997, 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.
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. Elvis Presley performed twelve times in the Omni and a plaque was placed on an interior wall to that effect after his death. Other notable concerts held at the arena included shows by The Grateful Dead, Van Halen, Bon Jovi, U2, Def Leppard, Bruce Springsteen, Genesis, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Prince, Garth Brooks, R.E.M., Phish, Rod Stewart, Dwight Yoakam, Willie Nelson, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, Yes and many others. Parts of Def Leppard's live home video "In The Round, In Your Face" were filmed at the Omni in October 1988 and the REM concert film 'Road Movie' was filmed at the Omni over three nights in November 1995. The Prince video for "Take Me With U" was also filmed there. In addition, Journey filmed the live music video for "I'll be Alright Without You" at the Omni in November 1986. The Grateful Dead recorded "China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider" on April Fools' Day 1990 for their live album "Without A Net" as well as playing many sold out shows over the years.
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
The Omni was home to the NBA Atlanta Hawks from 1972–1997; 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 1972–1980 (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.
- Elton John performed a concert at The Omni on November 10, 1974. He would play The Omni again on July 16, 1976; July 20, 1982; October 6, 1984; September 16, 1986, and May 8, 1993.
- Yes performed a concert on June 3, 1976, at The Omni in Atlanta, GA.
- Elvis Presley performed at Omni Coliseum a total of twelve times in three years between 1973 and 1976. He had five shows from the same tour in 1973 on 21, 29, and 30 June (two shows) and another on 3 July. He then had 3 shows in 1975 on 30 April, 1 and 2 May and then four shows in 1976 on 4, 5 and 6 June and his final show at this venue on 30 December 1976.
- The Police recorded two concerts on November 2–3, 1983, at The Omni in the wake of the Synchronicity album. The 1983 shows were also featured in the 1984 Synchronicity Concert VHS and the 2005 DVD release.
- Rock band R.E.M. performed a three night stand here on November 18–19 and 21, 1995 and the shows were filmed for their second concert film Road Movie.
- Vermont jam band Phish recorded one of its "musical costume" shows on Oct. 31, 1996, covering the entirety of Talking Heads' Remain in Light, which was later released as 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.
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 the designers of the building had not taken into consideration Atlanta's climate when it was installed. As noted above, the intent of the steel's use was for it eventually to form a seal to protect the building. What was not taken into consideration was that, as Atlanta is a city with a humid subtropical climate, there would be continued stress on the steel and as a result the steel corroded to the point where 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.
- "Georgia News Briefs". Rome News-Tribune. March 30, 1971. Retrieved March 28, 2012.
- Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
- 1996 Summer Olympics official report. Volume 1. p. 543.
- 1996 Summer Olympics official report. Volume 3. p. 465.
|Events and tenants|
Alexander Memorial Coliseum
|Home of the
1972 – 1997
Georgia Dome &
Alexander Memorial Coliseum
|Home of the
1972 – 1980
|NCAA Men's Division I
|Host of the
NBA All-Star Game