Jump to content

Atlanta 1996


barrack
 Share

Recommended Posts

i miss the feeling that the Games made Atlanta a better place to live. I have that feeling with Barcelona and Sydney. I miss the feeling also with Athens. The Games were ok, but not with passion, like Barcelona and Sydney. What was the goal of Atlanta with organizing the Games? What was the passion and how does it changed the city.

And don't be afraid I'm burning down Atlanta. They are still special for me: the Dutch won the volleyball title by beating the rivals from Italy in 5 memorable sets!

Each Games are different. One can't ALWAYS be like the one before or after. They are all individual cases.

Actually, Atlanta's metro rail system, MARTA, was rushed to serve the Games...so that's on par with other Games.

U know what? I was there. There was some good done. It's always some dickheads like OTO for example always scour the dirt. But who cares for his opinion? He wasn't there. I have wonderful memories of it and NO IDIOT's gonna take that away from me!!

Suck on it, OTO!! :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Each Games are different. One can't ALWAYS be like the one before or after. They are all individual cases.

Actually, Atlanta's metro rail system, MARTA, was rushed to serve the Games...so that's on par with other Games.

U know what? I was there. There was some good done. It's always some dickheads like OTO for example always scour the dirt. But who cares for his opinion? He wasn't there. I have wonderful memories of it and NO IDIOT's gonna take that away from me!!

Suck on it, OTO!! :P

LOL, I'm sorry the one and only time you got to work an Olympic Games just happened to be one of the worst and most poorly organized in U.S. and Olympic history. Atlanta will ALWAYS be one of the most embarrassing games in Olympic History. Yes, in the history books! Forever!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Atlanta is a vibrant and loved city. The city has become more and more popular. The games did not defined the city like some others, but was a part of their rise. It seems true that the 96 games have become less prominent than other aspects of the city, and that's probably not what the ioc would like. It seems Atlanta has grown and changed so much after the games that their games are more a footnote in their growth. The city has upstaged the games, which is ironic since many people seem to think the games were too good for Atlanta, I think Atlanta thinks close to the opposite.

Probably not a great springboard to the next US games.

Edited by stir.ts
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 11 months later...

Nice blog here. Really brought back some fond memories for me as well.

15 years though! Yikes time flies!

When Atlanta (and UGA) grabbed the rings

By Bill King

15 years ago Tuesday I began probably the most intense 17 days I’ve ever known as the Centennial Olympic Games finally got under way.

Recently a friend on Facebook was soliciting memories of the Atlanta Games and a flood of them came back to me: the crush of people from all over the world, the “flea market” downtown, passing the SWAT teams under the railroad trestle as I drove in every morning to work on the AJC’s daily Olympic Extra … and soccer at Sanford Stadium!

UGA was just about guaranteed a major Olympic role by virtue of former Dawg Billy Payne heading up the Games, but Athens ended up being the largest Olympic venue site outside Atlanta, playing host to some 650,000 visitors for events at three venues: men’s and women’s soccer in Sanford Stadium and volleyball preliminaries and rhythmic gymnastics in Stegeman Coliseum.

An estimated 50,000 people lined the streets of the Classic City four days before the Games opened when the Olympic Torch Relay made its way through the campus, with UGA Olympians Teresa Edwards and Katrina McClain carrying the torch past the Coliseum and Payne running it down the field at Sanford Stadium, handing off to his old coach, Vince Dooley. UGA also welcomed the Australian and Swedish Olympic teams for pre-Games training.

And the university saw one of the highlights of the entire Games when the U.S. women’s soccer team, led by Mia Hamm, beat China for the gold medal before a crowd of 76,481, to that date the largest ever to witness a women´s sporting event.

My son Bill and I were on hand at Sanford Stadium the next night for the bronze medal game between Brazil and Portugal in men’s football or “football messieurs” as the roster sheet called it, and it was unforgettable. With the famed hedges having been temporarily removed to accommodate a bigger playing field, the field itself having been flattened, and all that Centennial Olympics green dressing up the place, it was a strange experience, like being in some sort of “Fringe” alternate universe version of the familiar stadium.

Actually, it wasn’t the first time I’d seen a soccer game played at Sanford. Back around 1967 Phil Woosnam brought the original Atlanta Chiefs to the stadium one Saturday for an exhibition game Between the Hedges against the UGA men’s soccer club. I remember the genial Welshman and my mother, also from Wales, chatting on the field after the match and him expressing amazement that such a large stadium was devoted to college sports. “One day,” he said, “I hope to see this place filled for soccer.”

And here we were, with the Olympics having made that vision come true! It was, as my son said, a “surreal” experience.

But surreal is a pretty apt description of the entire 17 days, which was just the capper to a journey that started five years and 10 months earlier on Sept. 18, 1990, when after a nearly three-year campaign Atlanta was chosen to host the ’96 Olympics and the city’s populace went absolutely mad. Remember the “It’s Atlanta” front page? (My daughter Olivia has one on her bedroom wall.)

Actually, by the time 1996 finally arrived, I was pretty fed up with the ceaseless talk of the Olympics and ready for it all just to be over.

At least, that’s how I thought I felt. But as the Games drew closer and we at the Journal and Constitution prepared for around-the-clock blanket coverage, I couldn’t help but feel the anticipation grow.

A few weeks earlier, my son and I had attended a track and field festival that marked the opening of the new 83,100-seat Olympic Stadium, complete with all the big names like Carl Lewis and Gwen Torrance. Primarily because of young Bill’s mounting excitement, I had not been totally immune to Olympic fever, and I had paid for a pair of family bricks to be inscribed in the new Centennial Olympic Park carved out of a warehouse wasteland to provide the city with a glittering central gathering place, complete with those amazing Olympic Rings water fountains.

Still, it was almost as an afterthought that I popped a tape into the VCR to record the Opening Ceremonies. I thought it was a decent show by Olympic standards, though I cringed a bit when the fleet of chrome pickup trucks was circling the field. Did we really have to embrace that particular stereotype?

But when it was time for the evening’s big reveal around midnight on July 19, and the best-kept secret in Atlanta history was unveiled as the spotlights hit Muhammad Ali, holding the torch in his trembling hand and lighting the Olympic Caldron — in what NBC’s Bob Costas still cites as his all-time greatest Olympic moment — I felt an unexpected swell of emotion.

The next two and a half weeks were definitely different for our family. My wife Leslie, who normally worked three days a week at the paper, was on temporary full-time working nights, and since publication of the Journal was suspended for the duration, as part of the Journal desk I was working mornings on the Olympic Extra daily that the AJC put out each afternoon (yes, even on Sundays, which probably made us the world’s only Sunday afternoon newspaper!). 
The AJC wasn’t the only one putting out a special Olympic publication — USA Today, which published seven days a week for the duration of the Games, and Sports Illustrated also had their own Olympic dailies. And reporters and TV crews from around the world were everywhere.

It was disorienting enough that my days off were Tuesday and Wednesday, but the city we were working in was like some Technicolor fantasy version of the Atlanta we normally know. Leslie recalls how weird it felt to come out of work in the early hours of the morning and find the streets packed with people. And while the city took some shots from the world’s media for turning its streets into a sort of Olympic bazaar with all manner of souvenir stands and temporary restaurants and entertainment venues, I’ve got to tell you, it made for a nice change from the normal roll-up-the-sidewalks-at-dusk downtown Atlanta experience of stepping over the homeless and ignoring panhandlers as you make your way to your car to head home. For those two weeks, downtown Atlanta was actually interesting and fun, even if you weren’t going to one of the Olympic athletic events!

Besides the soccer game in Athens, we did do the Olympics as a family in other ways, attending some men’s and women’s basketball games at the Georgia Dome. And my son went with friends over to Birmingham that first Olympic weekend to watch some of the preliminary soccer games.
We also went several times to the park — young Bill had gotten caught up in the fervor of collecting and trading Olympic pins and he had quite good luck swapping some of the extras of the in-demand AJC pins I’d gotten at work.

Leslie even took Olivia, who was only 2, downtown to see the world famous Clydesdales, stabled just down the street from the paper, across from CNN Center. (It’s my daughter’s only memory of the Atlanta Games).

It was a great time to be in the city.

Then, a week and one hour after Ali had lit the flame, a nail bomb at the park resulted in two deaths and briefly shattered Atlanta’s good vibe. But the folks running the Olympics were determined that a terrorist act wasn’t going to derail the Games, and two days later my son and I were on hand as the eloquence of former Mayor Andrew Young and a stirring performance by a gospel choir marked the official reopening of the 21-acre park.

The city and the Games recovered from the deadly blast, but the atmosphere was never quite as giddy again during the remaining week of the Olympics.

Finally, when it was over, the city seemed sort of like a fairground the day after the carnival has moved on.

Some of the after effects of the Games were temporary — for a year or two the blue line in the streets marking the Olympic marathon route was still visible — while others were permanent. The Olympic Village became dorms for Georgia State University.

And the city lost an old landmark, as Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium came down, and gained a new one. But not one called Olympic Stadium. Instead, that venue was rebuilt into a smaller 47,000-seat stadium for the Atlanta Braves now known as Turner Field. (The seats where my son and I sat at the grand opening no longer exist; they’d be about where the plaza behind the giant video screen is now.)
 I think “the Ted” is a cool ball field, but I find it a bit sad that Atlanta no longer has an Olympic Stadium of its own like Berlin and Montreal.

But Centennial Olympic Park is still the city’s main gathering place. And although it took several years after the Games for the anticipated rebirth of downtown Atlanta to begin materializing, thanks to the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola and more attractions to come, it seems like the promise of the Games as a transformative experience for the city might finally be fulfilled.

Maybe it wasn’t really the “greatest peacetime event in the history of the world,” as Payne grandly proclaimed, but those 17 days in July and August of 1996 were a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many Georgians.

Good times, as my son would say.

AJC

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

Well, to get back to the original topic title (what's left from 1996), here's one remnant that may be under threat:

Olympics wants its rings removed from Birmingham's Legion Field

10257768-large.jpg

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The relationship is over, and the Olympics wants its rings back.

That was the message delivered to Birmingham city officials regarding the use of the official Olympic logo atop Legion Field.

Birmingham was one of four sites of 1996 Olympic soccer preliminary matches during the Atlanta games. But after 15 years, the U.S. Olympic Committee now wants the city to take down the icons, citing the organization's need to control its copyright. Mark Jones, director of communications for the USOC, said the nonprofit agency must protect its licensing rights, the funding mainstay for America's athletic teams.

"A lot of our sponsors invest in Team USA in order to gain commercial rights to the Olympic rings in the United States," Jones said. "It's a piece of intellectual property that we attempt to safeguard for the exclusive use of our sponsors. It's critical for our survival."

But before anyone climbs to the top of Legion Field with a can of gray paint, Gene Hallman said Monday that the city has a right to the rings and he has the papers to prove it.

Hallman, head of the Alabama Sports Foundation, was chief executive officer of the Birmingham Soccer Organizing Committee. "I was the person who made the request and I'm very familiar with what happened," he said. "The reason why it's such a vivid memory was the extended debate we had to put them up."

Jones said Birmingham was a "satellite city" rather than a host city, and it would be unusual to continue to allow the symbols here. He said the committee isn't trying to bring a hardship to the city but is asking for cooperation.

While the USOC has not threatened Birmingham with a lawsuit, the committee is known for its protection of the Olympic name and images associated with the games.

"We would hope that we could come to an amicable solution with the city of Birmingham," Jones said.

Hallman said there have been several administrative changes at the USOC since 1996, and perhaps institutional memory of the agreement with Birmingham was lost.

Hallman said he will dig through his archives and find the agreement that gives the city rights to display the rings.

"I find it unbelievably amazing that 15 years later they're making an issue of it," he said. "It would take a great deal of work to find the archived files from the Olympic games, but I will attempt to do so, and I'm 100 percent sure we received the approval to put them up and leave them up."

Hallman noted that Birmingham was celebrated as the most successful satellite of the 1996 games and was named among the top 10 pleasant surprises of the games by The Wall Street Journal.

City officials have not responded to the USOC but will research the issue, said Chuck Faush, Mayor William Bell's chief of staff.

"We'll look for the official notice and we'll entertain any agreement that the Alabama Sports Foundation has," he said.

Using rights given to it in a 1978 act of Congress, the Olympic Committee has sent numerous cease-and-desist letters to groups it said used the games' image without license. One case that famously made it to the Supreme Court involved the "Gay Olympics," in which the justices ruled in the USOC's favor.

Darin White, a professor of marketing at Samford University, said the USOC is like many companies in its fight to maintain brand equity.

"Companies and organizations spend millions of dollars to develop an image that relates to their brand, so it's not unusual for companies to aggressively protect those properties," said White, a specialist in sports marketing.

However, Raymond Sauer, chairman of economics at Clemson University, said the USOC's dogged guardianship of its name and image could bring unintended consequences if the group appears unreasonable to the public.

He said the group is in the business of making people feel good and must make sure its actions don't appear heavy-handed and spoil that perception. Yanking the rings off Legion Field keeps the image fresh for the next city but destroys a legacy that's been established in Birmingham, Sauer said.

"It sounds like they see a lot of value in controlling those images and they're willing to be very aggressive in controlling their brand," he said. "They must see some value in making those rings more scarce and relevant to the next city, so when they cut a deal with the next city, then that city has a rare commodity."

AL.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 months later...
  • 2 months later...

I'm interested to know what the "technical problems" are that have been mentioned several times by some posters. Was it just blips in new computer technology they tried to use? Sounds like about the right time when there may have been a lot of new developments in software and computers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm...

I guess the glitches were not that memorable.

I've actually been trying to search for a post I did a few years ago explaining all about the Atlanta tech glitches - I actually covered the whole issue from Atlanta for my newspaper when I was there in 1996 as a guest of IBM (it was a bit of a scoop for me, though mainly because I was at the right place, with the right people at the right time). It was a complex issue , and I'm also trying to get into proper work mode, so was hoping to find my earlier explanation rather than start anew. If I can't find it, I'll redo my explanation in a day or two.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm interested to know what the "technical problems" are that have been mentioned several times by some posters. Was it just blips in new computer technology they tried to use? Sounds like about the right time when there may have been a lot of new developments in software and computers.

Okay, can't find my original post explanation, but in a nutshell:

IBM, as any sponsor, were keen to showcase their latest technology at the games. So they put in the latest and the best they could, but didn't get time to properly test it.

Then, from the very first day of the games, it became clear there was some glitch in the results system. Both on TV and live in the venues, it was taking an inordinately long time for the results of events that just happened to be flashed up on the results screens and to be fed into the media results systems. It was becoming a bit of a PR disaster for IBM - especially when the journos were the ones that were being most affected. At no time, however, to my knowledge, did it result in any events to be postponed or cancelled - just a wait of up to five minutes for official results to be posted.

I happened to get into Atlanta on about day four or five of the games as a guest of IBM. The whole purpose of the trip (apart from buttering me up by showing a real good time!) was to get a first-hand look at the technology operation of the games. Thus I was able to interview IBM's head of technology for the games. As he explained (and I can't remember off hand the particular tech protocols and platforms used), the problem was that while IBM supplied the best and fastest technology available on the day, it operated sequentially, feeding the results to the various media computers in sequence. It should have been lightning fast - but what they didn't count on was the journalists coming to the games, who mostly brought their own computers, were mostly using older models that weren't equipped to operate as fast as the core IBM network. Thus, the results got stuck in a bottleneck as they had to cycle through one journo's "slow" computer to another.

The epilogue to it all was that IBM, who were contracted as the tech TOP sponsor up to 2000, didn't renew its contract after Sydney. And the Sydney OCOG and IOC specified that all tech used in 2000 had to be proven and no more recent than what was available 18 months before the games. I got a front page story and kudos, and I heard later on the grapevine the IBM tech chief got sacked for talking to me - and for blaming the probs on the client (the journos) rather than accept responsibility on behalf of IBM itself.

Edited by Sir Rols
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 years later...
Quote

 

Historical Marker planted for 1996 Centennial Olympic Games

The Georgia Historical Society on Tuesday unveiled a new Georgia historical marker recognizing the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games and honoring the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) as honoree of the Georgia Business History Initiative.

The historical marker was erected in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. Slideshow of the dedication ceremony below.

The Historical Marker reads:

1996 Summer Olympics Games of the XXVI Olympiad

From July 19 through August 4, 1996, Atlanta hosted the Centennial Summer Olympic Games, the largest event in Atlanta’s history. In 1990, the International Olympic Committee chose Atlanta over five other cities. Atlanta attorney Billy Payne and Mayor Andrew Young were the prime architects of the winning bid. Preparations had an estimated economic impact of at least $5.14 billion. Civic leaders built new sports venues, created park space, improved sidewalks and streets, and altered housing patterns. During the Olympics more than 2 million visitors came to Atlanta, and an estimated 3.5 billion people around the world watched on television. For the first time, all nations invited sent athletes, more than 10,000 competitors from 197 nations. The 1996 Olympics promoted Atlanta’s image as an international city, positioning it to play an important role in global commerce.

Speakers for the dedication were Andrew Young and William “Billy” Payne, architects of the bid for the Olympic Games; Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed; Vince Dooley, Georgia Historical Society chairman; Clyde Tuggle, senior vice president and chief public affairs and communications officer for The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO); Frank Poe, executive director of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority; and W. Todd Groce, president and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society.

“The 1996 Olympic Games were a watershed moment in Georgia history,” Groce said, in a statement. “They brought the world to our state and played a fundamental role in shaping Georgia’s political, economic, and cultural landscape in the twenty-first century... The story of the Centennial Olympics and the GWCCA will be available in exciting new ways to Georgia students and teachers through GHS educational resources and the new historical marker that we dedicate today.”

Atlanta Business Chronicle

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, Sir Rols said:

Historical Marker planted for 1996 Centennial Olympic Games

The Georgia Historical Society on Tuesday unveiled a new Georgia historical marker recognizing the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games and honoring the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) as honoree of the Georgia Business History Initiative.

The historical marker was erected in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. Slideshow of the dedication ceremony below.

The Historical Marker reads:

1996 Summer Olympics Games of the XXVI Olympiad

From July 19 through August 4, 1996, Atlanta hosted the Centennial Summer Olympic Games, the largest event in Atlanta’s history

Odd that the marker was unveiled on 1 November, weeks after the real anniversary.

Manufacturing problems?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...