My Georgia Dome Memories

DOMEPHOTO2As 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Flashback: Georgia Dome hosting State Championships (2008)

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This weekend is the last time Georgia high school football state championships will be played in the Georgia Dome.  The dome has hosted the championship games in all classifications since 2008.  Prior to that season, semifinal games were played in the dome and championship games were played at the host school.

Personally I have never been a fan of playing the championship games in the dome.  I have always felt that the games lost a little of their magic taking it away from the communities that have supported their teams the entire season.  The only state championship game I attended at the Georgia Dome was when Clinch County defeated Savannah Christian in 2010.

In the first title games played in the dome in 2008, the results were:

  • Wesleyan 33, Emanuel County Institute 21
  • Buford 45, Calhoun 21
  • Cairo 28, Flowery Branch 14
  • Tucker 15, Marist 3
  • Camden County 21, Peachtree Ridge 14

There were five classifications in 2008.  Today there are eight with a new classification (7A) added this season.

Like the 2008 games, both Buford and Tucker are playing for state titles this season.   Grayson coach Jeff Herron was the coach for Camden County in 2008.

The games may move to the new Mercedes Benz Stadium next season but no plans have been finalized.  If the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) is intent on playing the championship games at a centrally-located, neutral site, they should consider Mercer University’s football stadium in Macon, Georgia.

When the final game has been played and the lights go out in the Georgia Dome, eight state champions will be crowned and in the end it will not matter where they played the game.