The Omni in 1977
|Location||100 Techwood Drive
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
|Owner||City of Atlanta|
|Operator||City of Atlanta|
|Broke ground||March 30, 1971|
|Opened||October 14, 1972|
|Closed||May 11, 1997|
|Demolished||July 26, 1997|
|Construction cost||$17 million
($96.2 million in 2015 dollars)
|Architect||Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates|
|Structural engineer||Prybylowski and Gravino, Inc.|
|Services engineer||Lazensky & Borum, Inc.|
|General contractor||Ira H. Hardin Company|
|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 located in Atlanta, Georgia. 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.
The 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 tvsdesign with structural engineering work by the firm of Prybylowski and Gravino, the roof was technically described as an ortho-quad truss system.
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.
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 1980s, 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 pay-per-view 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 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.
- Elvis Presley performed a total of 12 times in 3 years between 1973 and 1976.
- Led Zeppelin performed one show here at the Omni on the 23rd of April 1977, on their critically and commercially successful tour of the United States. It was to be their last tour of the United States.
- Frank Sinatra performed twice at the Omni in 1988 and 1994.
- 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 home video, 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.
- Michael Jackson performed three consecutive sold–out shows at Omni Coliseum, during his Bad World Tour on April 13–15, 1988.
- 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.
Many other concerts were held at the arena. Acts like Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen, U2, Garth Brooks, Rod Stewart, Bon Jovi, Prince, and many, many others performed at the Omni as it was Atlanta's main concert venue from the time it opened until it closed.
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 did not 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 didn't factor in 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 to keep people from crawling though 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 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. 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 site, opened on September 18, 1999.
- "Georgia News Briefs". Rome News-Tribune. March 30, 1971. Retrieved March 28, 2012.
- Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
- "A Great Space". Engineering News-Record (McGraw-Hill Companies) 189 (2): 12.
- 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