Centennial Olympic Park: Atlanta’s catalyst for development

Centennial Olympic Park at Dusk
Centennial Olympic Park at Dusk

Prior to 1996, Centennial Olympic Park was an empty lot, not the 21-acre greenspace it is today. After receiving the bid for the Centennial Olympic Games, the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games began building the venues needed to host events. The idea for Centennial Olympic Park came from the desire to have a central gathering location for visitors and spectators, but also to serve as a lasting legacy for the city. The park opened July 1996, just in time for the games.

Even 20 years after the closing ceremony, Centennial Olympic Park continues to serve as a starting point for visitors. Not only is it the central gathering place it was once envisioned to be, but also it’s now an economic driver and catalyst for development. Centennial Olympic Park generated nearly $9.5 million in economic impact in 2015, giving businesses a reason to locate nearby.

Georgia Aquarium debuted adjacent to the park in 2005, generating $1.9 billion in economic impact since its opening. More attractions also chose to open around Centennial Olympic Park including Children’s Museum of AtlantaCenter for Civil and Human RightsCollege Football Hall of Fame and the relocation of World of Coca-Cola.

Centennial Olympic Park also serves as the front door to several of Atlanta’s largest venues. The Georgia Dome has played host to many of the city’s sporting events including NCAA Men's Final Four in 2002, 2007 and 2013, annual games like the SEC Football Championship, Chick-fil-A Bowl and Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games, as well as headlining musical acts such as Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney.

Philips Arena was recognized as one of the top 10 venues for live entertainment by Pollstar Magazine in 2014. That year alone, the arena hosted Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Eagles, Paul McCartney, Fleetwood Mac, Garth Brooks, Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend and The Walking Dead Escape.

Centennial Olympic Park hosts noteworthy events year-round including SweetWater 420 Festival, Shaky Knees Festival and the annual Fourth of July fireworks celebration. As the city celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Centennial Olympic Games, the park continues to represent the success Atlanta has achieved since 1996.