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Atlanta%E2%80%93Fulton County Stadium
Former multi-purpose stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, United States
In 1964, Mayor Allen announced that an unidentified team had given him a verbal commitment to move to Atlanta, provided a stadium was in place by 1966. Soon afterward, the prospective team was revealed to be the Milwaukee Braves, who announced in October that they intended to move to Atlanta for the 1965 season. However, court battles kept the Braves in Milwaukee for one last season.
The new stadium was built on the site of the cleared Washington-Rawson neighborhood, which a half-century before had been a wealthy neighborhood home to Georgia's governor, among others, but which by the 1960s had fallen on hard times. Forty-seven dignitaries took part in a groundbreaking ceremony on April 15, 1964, and that November, the Braves signed a 25-year agreement to play there, beginning in 1966. Construction was completed on April 9, 1965, for $18 million, and that night the Milwaukee Braves and Detroit Tigers played an exhibition game in the stadium. During that year the International League's Atlanta Crackers, whose previous home had been Ponce de Leon Park, played their final season in Atlanta Stadium.
On February 11, 1975, the stadium's name was changed to the compound Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium after the county threatened to withdraw its financial support. However, the official website of the Atlanta Braves maintains that the name change occurred after Ted Turner purchased the team in 1976.
The Falcons moved to the Georgia Dome in 1992, while the Braves had to wait until the Olympic Stadium from the 1996 Summer Olympics was transformed into Turner Field to move out at the beginning of the 1997 season. The stadium sat 60,606 for football and 52,007 for baseball. The baseball competition for the 1996 Summer Olympics was held at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium while the Braves were on a three-week road trip.
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium being demolished
The site where Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium once stood is now a parking lot.
The fence and wall display in the center of the picture commemorates the spot at which Hank Aaron's 715th home run landed on April 8, 1974.
Following the Olympics and the 1996 World Series, Fulton County commissioner, Marvin S. Arrington Sr., wanted to preserve the stadium as the home of a future Major League Soccer franchise and share the parking facilities between it and Turner Field but he was unable to push it through.
Between 1996 and 1997, the inside of the stadium was demolished. The stadium was imploded on August 2, 1997; the remains were later removed and demolished. A parking lot, built for Turner Field now stands on the site, with an outline of the old stadium built in. The monument that marked the landing point of Hank Aaron's historic 715th home run stands in the same place it did when the stadium was on the site.
During a series between the Braves and the San Diego Padres, one game spawned several brawls between the two teams. On August 12, 1984, Braves pitcher Pascual Pérez hit the Padres' Alan Wiggins with a pitch; Wiggins did not charge the mound, but the Padres vowed revenge on Pérez for his actions (several Padres were ejected in their subsequent attempts to hit Pérez). When Pérez was finally hit, by a pitch thrown by the Padres' Craig Lefferts, the first of many bench-clearing brawls began. By the time the game was over, both teams' lineups had been nearly emptied (due to all the ejections on both sides).
The stadium hosted the World Series for the first time in 1991 when the Braves played the Minnesota Twins in what ESPN judged to be the best World Series ever played. The Braves won all three games played in Atlanta, two in their final at-bat, but lost the series in seven games.
On July 20, 1993, a fire occurred in the stadium press box during batting practice for that evening's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. This fire occurred on the same day Fred McGriff joined the Braves.
On October 10, 1995, the Braves clinched the 1995 NLDS the 1st team to win a Division Series since the NLDS format in the playoff system began that same year. They defeated the Colorado Rockies 3 games to 1, with the decisive win at home.
On October 28, 1995, the Braves clinched the 1995 World Series by defeating the Cleveland Indians, 1-0, on a one-hit, 8-inning performance by pitcher Tom Glavine. The title was the Braves' first World Series championship in Atlanta, making one title in each of the three cities in which they have resided (also Boston and Milwaukee).
September 23, 1996, marked the stadium's final regular season game as the Braves played host to the Montreal Expos. Atlanta won the game 3-1 and clinched the NL Eastern Division title in the process.
The stadium's final event was Game 5 of the 1996 World Series, when the Braves played host to the New York Yankees. The final score was 1-0 in favor of the Yankees, with the ballpark's final run scored by Charlie Hayes. The final ceremonial first pitch was thrown to Eddie Perez by former President Jimmy Carter, who had done the honors at Braves home openers while still Governor of Georgia. The winning pitcher was New York's Andy Pettitte, defeating the Braves' John Smoltz. The final hit was recorded by Atlanta's Chipper Jones, who doubled off Pettitte in the bottom of the ninth inning. Pinch-hitter Luis Polonia was the final out in Fulton County Stadium's history, hitting a deep fly ball to right-center field caught by Yankees right fielder Paul O'Neill, which gave the stadium's final save to John Wetteland. (Since no home runs were hit in that game the final home run in the stadium's history belongs to Jim Leyritz, who hit a 3-run home run in Game 4. Leyritz was also Pettitte's batterymate for Game 5.)
As was the case for every stadium that used this design concept, the fundamentally different sizes and shapes of baseball and football fields made it inadequate for both sports. In the baseball configuration, 70% of the seats were in foul territory. In the football configuration, seats on the 50-yard-line--normally prime seats for football--were more than 50 yards (46 m) away from the sidelines. One unusual feature of this stadium is the fact that, unlike most multi-purpose stadiums - where the football field was laid either parallel to one of the foul lines or running from home plate to center field - the football field here was laid along a line running between first and third base. Oakland Coliseum has a similar configuration. Thus, a seat behind home plate for baseball would also be on the 50-yard line for football. The stadium was refurbished for the 1996 season prior to hosting the Olympicbaseball competition.
Unlike similarly designed outdoor stadiums--such as Riverfront Stadium and Busch Memorial Stadium--Fulton County Stadium always had a natural grass surface. However, for many years it was notorious for its poor field conditions. Until 1989, it didn't have full-time groundskeepers. Instead, it was tended to by a municipal street-maintenance crew.
Due to the elevation of the Atlanta area (situated at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains), the stadium boasted the highest elevation in baseball when it opened, at 1,050 feet (320 m) above sea level. It retained this distinction for 27 seasons, until the expansion Colorado Rockies entered the National League in 1993. The high elevation and the Southern summer heat made it favorable to home run hitters, resulting in the nickname "The Launching Pad." Until the Florida Marlins arrived (also in 1993), the stadium was the hottest in the majors.
Fulton County Stadium was designed by a joint-venture team of FABRAP (Finch Alexander Barnes Rothschild & Paschal) and Heery, Inc.