Sports in Atlanta

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Sports in Atlanta has a rich history, including the oldest on-campus NCAA Division I football stadium, Bobby Dodd Stadium, built in 1913 by the students of Georgia Tech. Atlanta also played host to the second intercollegiate football game in the South, played between the A&M College of Alabama (now Auburn University) and the University of Georgia in Piedmont Park in 1892; this game is now called the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. The city hosts college football's annual Chick-fil-A Bowl (Formerly known as The Peach Bowl) and the Peachtree Road Race, the world’s largest 10 km race. Atlanta was the host city for the Centennial 1996 Summer Olympics, and Downtown Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park was built for and commemorates the games.

Atlanta is home to professional franchises for three major team sports: the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball, the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association, the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League, and Atlanta United FC of Major League Soccer

Major league sports[edit]

Club Sport League Venue (capacity) Founded Titles
Atlanta Falcons Football NFL Georgia Dome (74,200) 1966 0
Atlanta Braves Baseball MLB Turner Field (49,600) 1871 1 (1995)
Atlanta Hawks Basketball NBA Philips Arena (18,100) 1946 0
Atlanta United FC Soccer MLS New Atlanta Stadium (29,300) 2014 0
Atlanta Dream Basketball WNBA Philips Arena (18,100) 2007 0


The Atlanta Braves baseball team has been the Major League Baseball franchise of Atlanta since 1966; the franchise was previously known as the Boston Braves (1912–1952), and the Milwaukee Braves (1953–1965). The team was founded in 1871 in Boston, Massachusetts as a National Association club, making it the oldest continuously operating sports franchise in North American sports.[citation needed] The Braves won the World Series in 1995 and had an unprecedented run of 14 straight divisional championships from 1991 to 2005.[citation needed]

Before the Braves moved to Atlanta, the Atlanta Crackers were Atlanta's professional baseball team from 1901 until their last season in 1965. They won 17 league championships in the minor leagues. The Atlanta Black Crackers were Atlanta's Negro League team from around 1921 until 1949.

American football[edit]

The Atlanta Falcons American football team plays at the Georgia Dome. They have been Atlanta's National Football League franchise since 1966. They have won the division title five times in two different divisions (NFC West and current NFC South), and a conference championship once, going on to lose to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII. Super Bowl XXVIII and XXXIV were held in the city.


The Atlanta Hawks (basketball) began in 1946 as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, playing in Moline, Illinois. The team moved to Milwaukee in 1951, then to St. Louis in 1955, where they won their sole NBA Championship as the St. Louis Hawks. In 1968, they came to Atlanta.[1]

In October 2007, the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) announced that Atlanta would receive an expansion franchise, that commenced their first season in May 2008. The new team is the Atlanta Dream, and plays in Philips Arena.[2]


Atlanta was selected in April 2014 for an expansion team to join Major League Soccer and begin play in 2017.[3] The team will play in the $1.2 billion retractable-roof New Atlanta Stadium being built south of the Georgia Dome and is to be named Atlanta United FC.[4]

The original Atlanta Beat of the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA, 2001–2003) was the only team to reach the playoffs in each of the league's three seasons.[citation needed] The new Atlanta Beat made its debut in Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) in April 2010, and the following month played its first game in the new soccer-specific stadium that it shared with Kennesaw State University in the northern suburb of Kennesaw. WPS played its final season in 2011 and folded just before its scheduled 2012 season; the Beat folded along with the league and are not part of WPS' effective successor, the current National Women's Soccer League.

Atlanta is also home to the Atlanta Silverbacks of the North American Soccer League (men) and W-League (women). In 2007, the Silverbacks had their best season, advancing to the USL Finals against the Seattle Sounders.

The Atlanta Chiefs won the championship of the now-defunct North American Soccer League in 1968.

Other sports[edit]

Club Sport League Venue Founded Titles
Atlanta Silverbacks Soccer NASL Atlanta Silverbacks Park 1995 1 (2007)
Spirit of Atlanta Drum Corps DCI Georgia Dome 1976 0
Atlanta Silverbacks Women Women's Soccer W-League Atlanta Silverbacks Park 1998 1 (2011)
Atlanta Xplosion Women's Football IWFL James R. Hallford Stadium 2003 1 (2006)
Gwinnett Gladiators Hockey ECHL Arena at Gwinnett Center 2003 0
Gwinnett Braves Baseball IL (AAA) Coolray Field 2009 0
Georgia Swarm Lacrosse NLL Arena at Gwinnett Center 2004 0

College sports[edit]

Atlanta has a rich tradition in collegiate athletics, with two NCAA Division I programs in the city and a third in the metropolitan area.

Georgia Tech[edit]

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets participate in 17 intercollegiate sports, including football and basketball. Tech competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and is home to Bobby Dodd Stadium, the oldest continuously used on campus site for college football in the southern United States, and oldest currently in Division I FBS.[5] The stadium was built in 1913 by students of Georgia Tech. Atlanta also played host to the second intercollegiate football game in the South, played between Auburn University and the University of Georgia in Piedmont Park in 1892; this game is now called the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry.[6]

Georgia State[edit]

The Georgia State Panthers, representing Georgia State University, field varsity teams in 16 sports, also including football and basketball. GSU, like Georgia Tech located within Atlanta proper, is currently in its second stint as a member of the Sun Belt Conference. It had been a charter member of the league in 1976, but left in 1981. In 2013, GSU returned to the Sun Belt from the Colonial Athletic Association.

Kennesaw State[edit]

The Kennesaw State Owls, based in the northern suburb of Kennesaw, represent Kennesaw State University in 17 varsity sports in the Atlantic Sun Conference (A-Sun). Unlike Tech and GSU, KSU does not currently have a football team, but has announced that it will add that sport in 2015. Since the A-Sun has never sponsored football, KSU announced that it would join the Big South Conference as a football-only member when it adds the sport.[7]

Ice hockey[edit]

From 1992 to 1996 Atlanta was home to the short-lived Atlanta Knights, an International Hockey League team. Their inaugural season was excellent for a new team, and was only bested by their sophomore season in which they won the championship Turner Cup. In 1996 they moved to Quebec City and became the Quebec Rafales.

In 1999 the Atlanta Thrashers hockey team became Atlanta's National Hockey League franchise. They replaced the Atlanta Flames which had departed for Calgary, Alberta in 1980, becoming the Calgary Flames. The Thrashers played in Philips Arena, but moved to Winnipeg and became the Winnipeg Jets in 2011, again leaving Atlanta without an NHL franchise.

Since the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg, their former ECHL affiliate in Duluth, GA, the Gwinnett Gladiators, has served as the area's only professional hockey team. The Gladiators moved to Gwinnett County in 2003 after seven seasons as the Mobile Mysticks, and has won three division championships, and a conference championship since 2006.


Atlanta is home to many rugby union clubs including the Atlanta Harlequins, ranked #2 in the United States in Division 1 for women's clubs under USA Rugby, the governing body for rugby in the United States.[8] Beginning in 2014, the suburb of Kennesaw will host the USA Women's Sevens, an event in the annual IRB Women's Sevens World Series in the sevens version of the sport.

Other teams[edit]

In the Arena Football League, The Georgia Force has been Atlanta's team since the franchise relocated from Nashville in 2002. They play in Philips Arena.

The Atlanta Kookaburras are a successful Australian rules football club that compete in men's and women's divisions in the MAAFL and SEAFL and USAFL National Championships.

Atlanta is home to two of the nation's Gaelic football clubs, the Na Fianna and Clan na nGael Ladies and Mens Gaelic Football Clubs. Both are members of the North American County Board, a branch of the Gaelic Athletic Association, the worldwide governing body of Gaelic games.[9]

Tournaments and events[edit]

Races and marathons[edit]

Atlanta hosts the annual Peachtree Road Race, the world’s largest 10 km race.,[10] the Publix Georgia Marathon and half-marathon, the Atlanta Marathon, and many other annual races.

Tournaments hosted[edit]

Atlanta was the host city for the Centennial 1996 Summer Olympics. Atlanta has also hosted Super Bowl XXVIII in 1994 and Super Bowl XXXIV, as well as the NCAA Final Four Men's Basketball Championship, most recently in 2013. The city hosts college football's annual Chick-fil-A Bowl (Formerly known as the Peach Bowl). Atlanta hosted the NCAA Final Four Men's Basketball Championship in April 2002, April 2007, and April 2013.

Atlanta Motor Speedway

Other events[edit]

Racing facilities include Atlanta Motor Speedway, a 1.5 mile (2.4 km) NASCAR race track in Hampton, and Road Atlanta in Braselton. In 2005 Atlanta competed with other major U.S. cities for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. In March 2006, Atlanta lost to Charlotte, North Carolina.

In golf, the final PGA Tour event of the season, The Tour Championship, is played annually at East Lake Golf Club.[11] This golf course is used because of its connection to the great amateur golfer Bobby Jones, an Atlanta native.

Atlanta also was the home to the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling organization and events. Atlanta also hosted WrestleMania XXVII in the Georgia Dome on April 3, 2011.


  1. ^ "A Franchise Rich With Tradition: From Pettit To 'Pistol Pete' To The 'Human Highlight Film'." Atlanta Hawks. Retrieved on April 29, 2008.
  2. ^ "The WNBA Is Coming to Atlanta in 2008". WNBA Enterprises, LLC. January 22, 2008. Retrieved March 21, 2008. 
  3. ^ Falkoff, Robert (November 16, 2007). "Commissioner outlines league goals". Major League Soccer, L.L.C. Retrieved March 21, 2008. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Bobby Dodd Stadium At Historic Grant Field :: A Cornerstone of College Football for Nearly a Century". Georgia Tech Athletic Association. Retrieved March 24, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Georgia And Auburn Face Off In Deep South's Oldest Rivalry." November 6, 2006. Retrieved on April 29, 2008.
  7. ^ "Kennesaw State Football Joins Big South Conference as Associate Member" (Press release). Kennesaw State Athletics. September 4, 2013. Retrieved October 6, 2013. 
  8. ^ [1], retrieved July 28, 2011.
  9. ^ Ladies Gaelic Football Na Fianna Atlanta, retrieved on November 12, 2009.
  10. ^ Shirreffs, Allison (November 14, 2005). "Peachtree race director deflects praise to others". Atlanta Business Chronicle. Retrieved January 1, 2008. 
  11. ^ From 2007 to 2013, this was not the final event of the season, although it was the last event of the FedEx Cup points race, making it the last event featuring elite players. With the PGA Tour's change to an October-to-September season for 2013–14, The Tour Championship is once again the final event of the season.