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Super Bowl visitors will find a different Atlanta

Skyscrapers surround Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta  

January 25, 2000
Web posted at: 4:31 p.m. EST (2131 GMT)

In this story:

Interactive: 360-degree photo gallery

Resources: Weather, city guide


Related specials:

CNN/SI: Super Bowl XXXIV

CNN Food: Super Bowl Snackers

By Jamie Allen
CNN Interactive Senior Writer

ATLANTA (CNN) -- To hear some people tell it, the Atlanta that is hosting Super Bowl XXXIV this year is a much different place than the Atlanta that hosted Super Bowl XXVIII in 1994.

Take a 360º tour of these Atlanta sites!
The Georgia Dome
Centennial Olympic Park
CNN Center Atrium newsroom
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"There's been considerable changes, obviously," says Bill Howard, vice president of marketing, tourism and communications for the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. "The most notable exceptions and improvements are that we have a lot more people-friendly places in our downtown area."

Credit the 1996 Olympics for that. The city poured money into refurbishing its downtown area for Olympic revelers, creating places like Centennial Olympic Park. Now, areas surrounding the park, including CNN Center, have enjoyed renovations and attracted a fairly steady stream of people -- from business diners to out-of-towners to residents who have moved into trendy lofts.

For sports fans, it's paradise.

"You've got Philips Arena (new home to the NBA Atlanta Hawks and NHL Thrashers) and the Georgia Dome (home to the football Falcons) sitting right next to each other, the Georgia World Congress Center right across the street, Centennial Olympic Park complementing that on the way to those facilities," says Howard. "(Much) of that wasn't here in 1994."

That area will be the epicenter of Super Bowl activities. More than 100,000 fans are expected for the weekend, according to tourism officials.

These exotic-looking sculptures are to be a part in the Super Bowl halftime presentation  

In addition to the Georgia Dome, site of the Super Bowl itself (click to see 360-degree image), the World Congress Center hosts the popular NFL Experience, Fox Sports News sets up shop at Centennial Park, and ESPN will beam sports news from the World of Coca-Cola. Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Cafe, both on Peachtree Street in the middle of downtown, plan Super Bowl festivities. CNN Center will be giving tours of its international headquarters (click to see 360-degree image). And thousands are expected to visit Centennial Park, which has been expanded and contains a number of new monuments to the city's Olympic legacy.

"The park was about half the size during the Olympics than it is now," says Amber Rice, communications coordinator for the park. "Now it's a full 21 acres (8.4 hectares). The whole north end of the park is new. It didn't exist during the Olympics." (Click to see 360-degree image of the park.)

Rice says many visitors will come to see the spot where the Olympics turned tragic, when a bomb exploded in the park, killing one and injuring 111.

The Quilt of Remembrance remembers the victims of a terrorist bombing that occured in the park during the 1996 Olympic games  

"There is a Quilt of Remembrance" for the victims of the bombing, says Rice. "The park has a quilt theme, and the Quilt of Remembrance has different stones from around the world, a different stone for all 111 people injured. And then it has an eternal light in the center for Alice Hawthorne," the woman who was killed by the bomb.

There are also statues of Billy Payne, who led Atlanta's efforts to host the Olympics, and Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the man who founded the modern Olympic Games in 1896. And tourists no doubt will visit the park's famous Olympic rings fountain, though Atlanta's winter weather will most likely keep sane Super Bowl fans from playing in them, as visitors did during the Summer Games.

Howard says the downtown area is also a safer place than it was in 1994, with more lighting and a more visible police presence. He also touts the Atlanta restaurant scene.


Super Bowl XXXIV

CNN Food:
Super Bowl Snackers


"We're a huge dine-out community," says Howard. "There are now 8,000 restaurants in metro Atlanta. It is virtually a plethora of dining choices of any type food -- anything from Moroccan to French to German. You name it, Atlanta's got a restaurant that features it."

To enjoy many of Atlanta's best restaurants, however, visitors will have to venture away from the downtown area to the neighborhoods that make Atlanta unique:

  • Virginia-Highland, northeast of downtown, boasts hip restaurants and pubs amid neighborhood streets and old homes.

  • Little Five Points, near the Highlands, caters to those who don't mind nose-rings and tattoos on their servers.

  • East Atlanta is the latest hot spot for home renovators and young urbanites.

  • Buckhead, north of the city, mixes blue-blood Atlanta with neon lights and strip malls, attracting a mix of affluent crowds and beer-drinking partyers.

  • Sweet Auburn is the African-American neighborhood that was home to Martin Luther King Jr. and his family. It lies largely within a national historic site and a preservation district, a reminder of Atlanta's role in pushing a tide of change in America.


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Super Bowl sidelines:
In downtown Atlanta, not much to do off the field
January 27, 2000
Atlanta strip clubs thrive as tourist draw
January 27, 2000
Destinations: Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthplace
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Super Bowl special sections:
CNN/ Special Section: Super Bowl XXXIV
January 2000 Food Special Section: Super Bowl Snackers
January 2000

Super Bowl XXXIV
Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau
Georgia World Congress Center, Georgia Dome and Centennial Olympic Park Atlanta tourism links
Official Margaret Mitchell House Page
Philips Arena Homepage CNN Center
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