Atlanta’s Olympic Benefit Went to the Dogs

Atlanta's remaining Olympic vestiges remind residents of the game's worst moment

Centennial Park p1
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Nearly 14 years after Atlanta hosted the Olympic games, the city is still looking for the financial benefit that was promised to it, according to a Chicago Tribune analysis.

It’s tough to say whether or not the downtown revitalization that accompanied the Southern city’s winning bid had much effect on the economy there. Atlanta, like the rest of the country is mired in the doldrums of a serious recession.

Atlanta used $1.7 billion in private funds to finance the games and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce said investment resulted in $5 billion in revenue for the city.

But many say the revenue came too much, too fast, and that the city missed an opportunity to revitalize its infrastructure by investing in pretty things.

Instead of revamping transportation and sewers – like they are now, for a cost of $4 billion -- the Tribune story points out, the city poured its resources into venues which ultimately benefitted private institutions. 

Many of the structures that were built for the 1996 Summer Games still remain, but visitor would be hard pressed to point out which ones, a Chicago Tribune article notes.

Atlanta was left with a $209 million baseball facility, formerly the Olympic Stadium and now Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves.

Georgia State University, primarily a commuter school, ended up with the Olympic Village housing complex -- an $85 million, 2,000-bed dormitory.

Georgia Tech got a $24 million swimming and diving center and a $12 million makeover of its coliseum. The city's historically black colleges -- Morehouse, Morris Brown, Spelman and Clark Atlanta -- received $89 million in athletic facilities. Other cities landed a white-water rowing center, a tennis stadium and an international horse park.

The one true benefit left for Atlanta, is also a reminder of the worst moment at the games.

Centennial Park, a 21-acre expanse that now serves as a gathering place for residents, once was a dilapidated parcel of land. It was also the site of the 1996 bombing that rocked the Olympics that year.

Some will be wont to draw comparisons to Chicago. The windy city already has Millennium Park, residents here are more interested in the financial benefits, which will take time to see. 

For complete coverage of Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid click here.

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