As the Georgia Dome was imploded this week and finally gave way to another new shiny sports facility, I remember the handful of times that I actually attended events at the Georgia Dome. I wasn’t a frequent visitor and my experiences are limited compared to others but I enjoyed my times of walking inside of Georgia’s first domed stadium. Honestly, when they first announced that they were building a domed stadium in Atlanta, I thought it was silly since Georgia wasn’t exactly the coldest place to need such a facility but as time went on, I saw that it was a huge success for Atlanta. The Georgia Dome has been home to the Atlanta Falcons, Peach Bowl, SEC Championship Game, NCAA Men’s Final Four and the 1996 Summer Olympics.
During the Georgia Dome’s 25-year existence, I believe I have been inside four times – all football games – here is a recap of my times in the Georgia Dome:
- October 9, 1994
- Atlanta Falcons 34, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13
- This was the first-ever NFL game I attended. I went with my co-worker from the newspaper as we were there to cover the game. The press box was nothing like the high school games I had covered. People gave you stats and you got all the information you could ever want to write about the game. After the game, my job was to interview Atlanta Falcons’ Running Back Craig “Ironhead” Heyward. I was in a group of reporters asking questions of Heyward who was the leading rusher in the game with 87 yards and two touchdowns. The unique thing about this game was that Sam Wyche, who was the Buccaneers coach at the time, elected to go for a 38-yard field goal trailing 34-10 at the end of the game.
- December 24, 1994
- Atlanta Falcons 10, Arizona Cardinals 6
- I returned two months later with my co-worker to cover the final regular season game. The Falcons finished 7-9 that season. My job was to interview Atlanta Falcons’ Wide Receiver Andre Rison because there were rumors that it was going to be his last game with the team. I joined a group of reporter – a large group – gathered around his locker only to learn that Rison had ducked out and left.
- December 9, 1995
- SW DeKalb 7, Warner Robins 0 (State Semifinals)
- I returned to the Georgia Dome a year later working for a different newspaper and covering the Warner Robins Demons in their semifinal playoff game against SW DeKalb. This was when the Georgia High School Association were playing the semifinal round games at the Dome. On this trip, I actually had the chance to walk down on the playing field and sideline. It wasn’t at all like I had expected. The turf wasn’t very good at all. It was a hard fought game but SW DeKalb was led by Quincy Carter at quarterback.
- December 11, 2010
- Clinch County Panthers 24, Savannah Christian Raiders 14 (State Championship Game)
- This was the first time I had ever attended a game at the Georgia Dome as a fan. It was probably the most memorable one for me because I attended with my father. He played at Clinch County and is a big fan. We both joined in with the fans as the game was tight early but a punt return broke the game open on their way to the state title.
Of course, I have watched many games that were played there. It’s was one thing to see it on television but an entirely different experience to go in person. Like many people, I was in awe the first time I walked into the place. I can’t imagine what it would be like to walk inside the new Mercedes-Benz Field next door to it. As for the Georgia Dome, I left there happy 3 of the 4 times I was there. Thanks for the memories.