Atlanta's Game Face: Sports in the Capital of the South

Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Matt Ryan













Fast facts

  • Atlanta is home to five professional sports franchises:
    • Braves (MLB)
    • Dream (WNBA)
    • Falcons (NFL)
    • Hawks (NBA)
    • Atlanta United FC (MLS)
  • Two Division I NCAA programs are located in Atlanta:
    • Georgia Tech (Atlantic Coast Conference)
    • Georgia State (Sun Belt Conference)
  • Atlanta’s history includes hosting large-scale sporting events:
    • 1996 Centennial Olympic Games
    • Four NCAA Men’s Final Four tournaments – 1977, 2002, 2007 and 2013
    • Two Super Bowl matchups – XXVIII (1994) and XXXIV (2000)
    • 23 consecutive SEC football championship games; current contract will keep the game in Atlanta through 2026

Annual events

  • AJC Peachtree Road Race (July)
  • BB&T Atlanta Open (July/August)
  • Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game (September)
  • The Tour Championship (September)
  • SEC Championship (December)
  • Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl (December)
  • Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (December/January)

Upcoming events

  • 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
  • 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball South Regional (Philips Arena)
  • 2019 NFL Super Bowl LIII (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
  • 2020 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)

2017: A banner year for Atlanta’s sports scene

2017 is set to be a banner year for the city as it prepares for the next four years in the spotlight. First up, Atlanta welcomed Major League Soccer franchise, Atlanta United FC, which kicked off its inaugural season on March 5 against New York Red Bulls at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Atlanta Braves stepped up to the plate at their new home, SunTrust Park, on April 14. Surrounding SunTrust Park is the all new live/work/play complex, The Battery Atlanta. This entertainment complex has a 260-room Omni Hotels & Resorts property, dining from acclaimed chefs Ford Fry and Linton Hopkins, and The Coca-Cola Roxy Theatre, a returning, iconic Atlanta music venue. The $1.5 billion retractable-roof Mercedes-Benz Stadium will open on August 26 as the Atlanta Falcons rise up for a pre-season game. Atlanta United FC will play its first home game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sept. 10. The stadium will feature the world’s largest 360-degree HD video halo board and a 100-yard bar parallel to the field.

Hail to the King of sports: Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame

The South is known for turning college football into a religion, so it was only fitting that Atlanta became the new site for the College Football Hall of Fame. It moved from South Bend, Indiana and opened in Atlanta in 2014 as a massive, state-of-the-art shrine for college football fans. Three floors of interactive exhibits include an indoor half-football field where visitors can kick field goals and run routes, an ESPN College GameDay desk and Fight Song Karaoke. RFID technology uses guest-specific data to personalize various exhibits to display unique content about each visitor’s favorite college football team.

Atlanta’s gold medal: 1996 Centennial Olympic Games

Atlanta found itself catapulted into international prominence in 1996 when the city hosted the Centennial Olympic Games. During those 17 days from July 19 to Aug. 4, 10,318 athletes competed in 271 events. Seventy-nine countries won medals, and 53 countries took home gold. All 197 recognized National Olympic Committees were represented during the Games for the first time in Olympic history. Beach volleyball, lightweight rowing, mountain biking and women’s football made their inaugural debut in the Games, while softball joined the slate as a women-only sport. Olympic Stadium, turned Turner Field now Georgia State Stadium, was the site of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. President Bill Clinton opened the Games and boxing great Muhammad Ali surprised the world by lighting the Olympic Flame. Centennial Olympic Park, the city’s lasting legacy from the Games, is now a starting point for visitors. Serving as the hub of Downtown, the park welcomes nearly 5 million visitors each year who experience the history of the 1996 Olympics.