Less than two decades ago, Centennial Olympic Park’s neighborhood was a run-down part of town. That all began to change on the day Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games CEO Billy Payne gazed out his office window and a brilliant inspiration came to him – to convert a multi-block eyesore into a glorious gathering spot for visitors and residents to enjoy during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games and for years to come.
Atlanta responded to that vision with tremendous support. The estimated $75 million in development costs came entirely from private-sector donations – contributions in the form of commemorative bricks, funds raised by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and local philanthropic foundation grants.
This community support, coupled with the willingness of the State of Georgia to take the lead in the Park’s development and to assume ownership after the Games, transformed a dream into a grand reality – Centennial Olympic Park.
Following the Olympic Games, a large portion of the park was closed and redesigned for daily public use. A gala commemoration weekend in March 1998 introduced the newly landscaped Park and its expanded amenities.
Today, this unique 21-acre park performs a dual mission: it serves as Georgia’s lasting legacy of the Centennial Olympic Games and it anchors efforts to revitalize residential and commercial development in Georgia’s capital city of Atlanta.
The Georgia World Congress Center Authority has operational responsibility for Centennial Olympic Park, as well as the Georgia Dome and Georgia World Congress Center.
The Park sponsors community-wide free events, including the Fourth of July Celebration, Music@Noon, the Wednesday WindDown concert series, and Park Market. The Park also hosts festivals, fundraisers and private events. These events, in addition to the normal day-to-day traffic, bring an estimated three million visitors to this urban oasis each year.