Omni Coliseum

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Omni Coliseum
"The Omni"
Omni Coliseum 1977.jpg
The Omni in 1978
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
($97.3 million in 2016 dollars[2])
Architect Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates
Structural engineer Prybylowski and Gravino, Inc.[3]
Services engineer Lazensky & Borum, Inc.[4]
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)

Omni Coliseum (often called The Omni) was an indoor arena 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 the home arena 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]

The arena was considered an architectural marvel that combined innovative roof, seating, and structural designs. The logo is based on the unique seating arrangement. The exterior was made 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 tvsdesign 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 part of the Omni is the scoreboard that hangs in the pavilion of the Philips Arena. American Sign and Indicator built the basketball-specific scoreboard in the early 1990s to replace the original hockey-specific scoreboard that Daktronics maintained during the 1980s. The arena also had four message boards on each end zone, two of which were animation boards.

Events[edit]

Professional wrestling[edit]

The Omni was a hotbed for professional wrestling. It was considered the home base for the NWA's Georgia Championship Wrestling since its opening, Jim Crockett Promotions in the late 1980s, and WCW. Many major and historic wrestling events took place at the Omni, including Starrcade 85, Starrcade 86, Starrcade 89, the first Wargames match during the Great American Bash in 1987, and many other pay-per-view shows. The WWE also held many shows at the Omni 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). In 1994, the Knights became the only pro team to win a championship in the building when they won the Turner Cup.

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.

Indoor soccer[edit]

The Omni was 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 12 times between 1973 and 1976.
  • Led Zeppelin performed at the Omni on April 23, 1977, on their critically and commercially successful final tour of the United States.
  • Deep Purple played twice at the Omni, on June 18, 1973 and on March 11, 1974. In 1987 concert was canceled due to Ritchie Blackmore's hand injury.
  • Gary Painter and the Northwest Jazz Band performed at a couple of Hawks games in the 1980s.
  • Frank Sinatra performed at the Omni in 1974, 1988, and 1994.
  • The Bee Gees played two sold-out concerts during their 1979 Spirits Having Flown Tour.
  • Van Halen The band first performed at the Omni on November 13, 1978. Scalped tickets for the band's later shows often sold for up to 100 dollars.
  • The Police performed two consecutive shows during their Synchronicity Tour on November 2–3, 1983, with The Fixx as their opening act. Excerpts from these shows appeared on the 1984 Synchronicity Concert VHS, the 2005 DVD release and on disc 2 of their live album, entitled Live!.
  • Def Leppard performed four 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 included on their live home video, entitled Live: In the Round, in Your Face.
  • Journey performed as part of 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.
  • Michael Jackson performed three consecutive sold–out shows during his Bad World Tour on April 13–15, 1988.
  • The Grateful Dead performed three consecutive shows during their Built to Last Tour on April 1–3, 1990. The shows were recorded and three 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.
  • Nirvana performed one show during their In Utero Tour on November 29, 1993, with The Breeders as their opening act.
  • R.E.M. concluded their Monster World Tour with three 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 titled Road Movie
  • Janet Jackson played the Omni during the janet. World tour on January 4–5, 1994.
  • Metallica performed the final concert in the Omni on April 23, 1997.

Many other concerts were held at the arena, including Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Garth Brooks, Rod Stewart, Bon Jovi, Whitney Houston, Prince, and The Commodores. Among the major non-sports events at the Omni was the 1988 Democratic National Convention where delegates nominated Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen for President and Vice President of the United States, respectively.

Problems[edit]

Bird's-eye view of the Omni Coliseum

The Omni did not last nearly as long as many other arenas built during the same time period, in part because a number of its innovations did not work as intended. The most serious problem was the weathering steel that was designed to form a protective seal around the building. However, Atlanta's humid subtropical climate put so much stress on the steel that it never stopped rusting. By the 1980s, the steel had so badly deteriorated that large holes began appearing. Chain link fences were installed to keep people from crawling through the wall to see events. Despite fairly good sight lines, the structure had begun to look 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 began to construct arenas with better amenities for their high-end customers, such as luxury boxes, club-level seating, and massive club concourses, to increase revenue. 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. 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 compared to newer buildings in other cities. By the start of the 1990s, an 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 Ted Turner's desire to own an NHL franchise; the Flames had been sold to Canadian businessmen and relocated to Calgary, Alberta a decade earlier. The NHL determined the Omni was not suitable even as a temporary facility, and would only grant Atlanta an expansion team if Turner guaranteed a brand-new arena would be in place by the time the new team took the ice. On July 26, 1997, the Omni was demolished, and Philips Arena, which was constructed on the site, opened on September 18, 1999.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Georgia News Briefs". Rome News-Tribune. March 30, 1971. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  2. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b http://www.modernsteel.com/archives/PDFs_61-90/1975A9_15-1.pdf
  4. ^ "A Great Space". Engineering News-Record. McGraw-Hill Companies. 189 (2): 12. 
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