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The Omni Coliseum, usually called The Omni, from the Latin for "all," or "every," was an indoor arena located in Atlantamarker, Georgiamarker. Completed in 1972, the arena seated 16,378 for basketball and 15,278 for ice hockey. It was part of the Omni Complexmarker, now known as the CNN Centermarker. The only remaining reminder is the scoreboard from the Omni that now hangs in the pavilion of the Philips Arenamarker.

History

This arena was an architectural marvel when first constructed, combining innovative design for the roof, seating, and the structure itself. The logo is based on the unique seating arrangement. Its exterior of Cor-Ten was supposed to "surface rust" to seal itself, making a solid steel structure that would last for decades. The Omni was noted for its distinctive space frame roof, often joked about as looking like an egg crate or a rusty waffle iron . Designed by the firm of Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates with structural engineering work by the firm of Prybylowski and Gravino, the roof was technically described as an ortho-quad truss system.

Basketball and Hockey

The Omni was home to the NBA Atlanta Hawks from 19721997, the NHL Atlanta Flames from 19721980 (now the Calgary Flames), and the IHL Atlanta Knights (1992-1996). The Knights were the only pro team to win a championship in the building by winning the Turner Cup in 1994. The arena also hosted the 1977 NCAA Final Four, won by Marquette Universitymarker over North Carolinamarker in what was Warriors' (their nickname at the time) coach Al McGuire's last game, one SEC and three ACC men's basketball tournaments, the 1978 NBA All-Star Game, the 1993 NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four, and the volleyball matches for the 1996 Summer Olympics. The Flames have since been replaced by the Atlanta Thrashers, who began play in 1999 after the Omni was demolished and Philips Arenamarker was built.

Pro Wrestling

The Omni was also home to many legendary professional wrestling events, as it was the "home arena" for many of WWE's rival promotions, starting with Georgia Championship Wrestling. After they were sold, the National Wrestling Alliance's Jim Crockett Promotions and its successor, Ted Turner/Time Warner's World Championship Wrestling used the building many times. In total, four Starrcades (1985, 1986, 1989, 1992) were held there, as well as parts of two NWA Great American Bash events (1986, 1987) and Slamboree 1993. In actuality, The Omni was not the "home arena" for Jim Crockett Promotions, it was the Greensboro Coliseummarker in North Carolina. When Turner bought out JCP in 1988, the Omni became the "home arena" for the NWA/WCW. The final wrestling event to take place in The Omni was an episode of WCW Monday Nitro on March 3, 1997.

Concerts

The Omni was a frequent host to musical acts over the course of its lifetime, with performers and bands such as Bob Dylan,The Rolling Stones.Blue Oyster Cult,Jeff Beck,Aerosmith,Rod Stewart,Elton John, Heart, Jethro Tull, The Eagles, Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, Nirvana, Paul Simon,KISS, Billy Joel, Huey Lewis and the News, Queen, Genesis, Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Eric Clapton [74290], Prince, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, The Jackson Five, Dire Straits, Metallica, Paula Abdul, Tom Petty, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, The Police, Bruce Springsteen,Neil Young, The Who, U2, Yes, Depeche Mode, R.E.M., Phish and ZZ Top, who would often sell out for 3 nights in a row. . The Police's "Synchronicity Concert" was filmed at the Omni in November 1983. Pink Floyd filmed three shows at the Omni in November 1987 but the films were scrapped though three tracks were used for videos. The full show is now being traded by fans. Def Leppard's live home video "In the Round, In Your Face", was filmed at the Omni in October 1988. R.E.M.'s Road Movie concert video was filmed over three nights at The Omni on November 18, 19 and 21, 1995. Metallica played the last concert at the Omni on Wednesday, April 23, 1997.

Among the other non-sports events hosted at the Omni was the 1988 Democratic National Convention.

Problems

Bird's eye view of the Omni Coliseum
Bird's eye view of the Omni Coliseum
One of the problems with the building was that some of the innovations were not successful. The worst was that the exterior never ceased rusting to seal itself. By the mid 1990s, the rusting exterior had holes big enough that chain link fences were installed in a number of locations to keep people from crawling though the wall to see events. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a growing number of NBA and NHL teams started constructing new arenas with better amenities for their high-end customers, such as luxury boxes, club-level seating, and massive club concourses, in order to increase their revenue streams. Some of these new arenas had as many as 200 luxury boxes, compared to the Omni which had only had 16 such boxes, and no club level at all, thus putting the Atlanta Hawks at a disadvantage. It also became a disadvantage to the city of Atlanta; until the Georgia Domemarker was finished in 1992, the Omni served as its largest indoor facility in terms of seating capacity.

Built on a former railroad yard, after construction, the Omni settled more than its designers expected. There were unanticipated stresses in the space frame roof, which often leaked water.

Although the Omni hosted many events, it lost more than its share due to the smaller seating capacity and lack of amenities when compared to newer buildings in other cities. Despite quite enjoyable seating and viewing for the fans, the structure had the outward appearance of looking dated by the early-'90s (although the arena was only 20 years old), so there was a collective effort by many parties to build a replacement. This also stemmed from the desire of Ted Turner to own an NHL franchise; the Atlanta Flames had been sold to Canadian businessmen and relocated to Calgary, Albertamarker a decade earlier. However, the only way the league would approve an expansion team to him would be with the guarantee of a new arena. In 1997, the Omni was demolished, and Philips Arenamarker was constructed on the same site. It opened two years later.


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