Sports in Atlanta

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Atlanta Motor Speedway

Atlanta has a rich sports history, including the oldest on-campus Division I football stadium, Bobby Dodd Stadium, built in 1913 by the students of Georgia Tech. Atlanta also played host to the second intercollegiate football game in the South, played between the A&M College of Alabama (now Auburn University) and the University of Georgia in Piedmont Park in 1892; this game is now called the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. The city hosts college football's annual Chick-fil-A Bowl (Formerly known as The Peach Bowl) and the Peachtree Road Race, the world’s largest 10 km race. Atlanta was the host city for the Centennial 1996 Summer Olympics, and Downtown Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park was built for and commemorates the games.

Atlanta is home to professional franchises for three major team sports: the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball, the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association, and the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League.

ClubSportLeagueHome VenueYear FoundedLeague Championships
Atlanta FalconsFootballNFLGeorgia Dome19660
Atlanta BravesBaseballMLBTurner Field18711 (1995)
Atlanta HawksBasketballNBAPhilips Arena19460
Atlanta DreamWomen's BasketballWNBAPhilips Arena20070
Atlanta SilverbacksSoccerNASLAtlanta Silverbacks Park19951 (2007)
Spirit of AtlantaDrum CorpsDCIGeorgia Dome19760
Atlanta Silverbacks WomenWomen's SoccerW-LeagueAtlanta Silverbacks Park19980
Atlanta XplosionWomen's FootballIWFLJames R. Hallford Stadium20031 (2006)
Gwinnett GladiatorsHockeyECHLArena at Gwinnett Center19950
Atlanta RollergirlsRoller DerbyWFTDAYaraab Shrine Center20040
Gwinnett BravesBaseballILCoolray Field20090
Georgia ForceArena FootballAFLArena at Gwinnett Center20020



The Atlanta Braves baseball team has been the Major League Baseball franchise of Atlanta since 1966; the franchise was previously known as the Boston Braves (1912–1952), and the Milwaukee Braves (1953–1965). The team was founded in 1871 in Boston, Massachusetts as a National Association club, making it the oldest continuously operating sports franchise in North American sports. The Braves won the World Series in 1995 and had an unprecedented run of 14 straight divisional championships from 1991 to 2005. Before the Braves moved to Atlanta, the Atlanta Crackers were Atlanta's professional baseball team from 1901 until their last season in 1965. They won 17 league championships in the minor leagues. The Atlanta Black Crackers were Atlanta's Negro League team from around 1921 until 1949.

American football

The Atlanta Falcons American football team plays at the Georgia Dome. They have been Atlanta's National Football League franchise since 1966. They have won the division title three times, and a conference championship once, going on to lose to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII. Super Bowl XXVIII and XXXIV were held in the city. In the Arena Football League, The Georgia Force has been Atlanta's team since the franchise relocated from Nashville in 2002. The 2005 National Conference champions play in Philips Arena.[dated info]


The Atlanta Hawks (basketball) began in 1946 as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, playing in Moline, Illinois. The team moved to Milwaukee in 1951, then to St. Louis in 1955, where they won their sole NBA Championship as the St. Louis Hawks. In 1968, they came to Atlanta.[1] Atlanta hosted the NCAA Final Four Men's Basketball Championship in April 2002 and April 2007.

In October 2007, the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) announced that Atlanta would receive an expansion franchise, that commenced their first season in May 2008. The new team is the Atlanta Dream, and plays in Philips Arena.[2]

College sports: Georgia Tech

Atlanta has a rich tradition in collegiate athletics. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets participate in 17 intercollegiate sports, including football and basketball. Tech competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and is home to Bobby Dodd Stadium, the oldest continuously used on campus site for college football in the southern United States, and oldest currently in Division I FBS.[3] The stadium was built in 1913 by students of Georgia Tech. Atlanta also played host to the second intercollegiate football game in the South, played between Auburn University and the University of Georgia in Piedmont Park in 1892; this game is now called the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry.[4]

Ice hockey

From 1992 to 1996 Atlanta was home to the short-lived Atlanta Knights, an International Hockey League team. Their inaugural season was excellent for a new team, and was only bested by their sophomore season in which they won the championship Turner Cup. In 1996 they moved to Quebec City and became the Quebec Rafales. In 1999 the Atlanta Thrashers hockey team became Atlanta's National Hockey League franchise. They replaced the Atlanta Flames which had departed for Calgary, Alberta in 1980, becoming the Calgary Flames. The Thrashers played in Philips Arena, but moved to Winnipeg and became the Winnipeg Jets in 2011, again leaving Atlanta without an NHL franchise.


In golf, the final PGA Tour event of the season that features elite players, The Tour Championship, is played annually at East Lake Golf Club.[5] This golf course is used because of its connection to the great amateur golfer Bobby Jones, an Atlanta native.


The original Atlanta Beat of the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA, 2001–2003) was the only team to reach the playoffs in each of the league's three seasons. The new Atlanta Beat made its debut in Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) in April 2010, and the following month played its first game in the new soccer-specific stadium that it shares with Kennesaw State University in the northern suburb of Kennesaw.

Atlanta is also home to the Atlanta Silverbacks of the North American Soccer League (men) and W-League (women). In 2007, the Silverbacks had their best season advancing to the USL Finals against the Seattle Sounders, who have since been promoted to the MLS. The city is supposedly also being considered for a potential expansion team in Major League Soccer.[6]

The Atlanta Chiefs won the championship of the now-defunct North American Soccer League in 1968.


Atlanta is home to many rugby union clubs including the Atlanta Harlequins, ranked #2 in the United States in Division 1 for women's clubs under USA Rugby, the governing body for rugby in the United States.[7]

Roller derby

The Atlanta Rollergirls are one of the twenty original founding leagues of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, and regularly appear in the South Central regional playoffs.

In November, they will host the 2012 WFTDA Championship at Georgia World Congress Center.

Australian rules football

The Atlanta Kookaburras are a successful Australian rules football club that compete in men's and women's divisions in the MAAFL and SEAFL and USAFL National Championships.

Gaelic football

Atlanta is home to two of the nation's Gaelic football clubs, the Na Fianna and Clan na nGael Ladies and Mens Gaelic Football Clubs. Both are members of the North American County Board, a branch of the Gaelic Athletic Association, the worldwide governing body of Gaelic games.[8]

Auto racing

Racing facilities include Atlanta Motor Speedway, a 1.5 mile (2.4 km) NASCAR race track in Hampton, and Road Atlanta in Braselton. In 2005 Atlanta competed with other major U.S. cities for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. In March 2006, Atlanta lost to Charlotte, North Carolina.


Atlanta also was the home to the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling organization and events. Atlanta also hosted Wrestlemania 2011.

Races and marathons

Atlanta hosts the annual Peachtree Road Race, the world’s largest 10 km race.,[9] the Publix Georgia Marathon and half-marathon, the Atlanta Marathon, and many other annual races.

Notable sports events

Atlanta was the host city for the Centennial 1996 Summer Olympics. Atlanta has also hosted Super Bowl XXVIII in 1994 and Super Bowl XXXIV, as well as the NCAA Final Four Men's Basketball Championship, most recently in 2007. The city hosts college football's annual Chick-fil-A Bowl (Formerly known as the Peach Bowl).


  1. ^ "A Franchise Rich With Tradition: From Pettit To 'Pistol Pete' To The 'Human Highlight Film'." Atlanta Hawks. Retrieved on April 29, 2008.
  2. ^ "The WNBA Is Coming to Atlanta in 2008". WNBA Enterprises, LLC. January 22, 2008. Retrieved March 21, 2008.
  3. ^ "Bobby Dodd Stadium At Historic Grant Field :: A Cornerstone of College Football for Nearly a Century". Georgia Tech Athletic Association. Retrieved March 24, 2007.
  4. ^ "Georgia And Auburn Face Off In Deep South's Oldest Rivalry." November 6, 2006. Retrieved on April 29, 2008.
  5. ^ Before the 2007 season, this was the last event of the PGA Tour season. However, a revamping of the Tour calendar in 2007 created a season-long points race known as the FedEx Cup to determine the Tour's season champion. The Tour Championship, now held in late September, is the final event in the FedEx Cup, although the Tour season continues into November with the Fall Series.
  6. ^ Falkoff, Robert (November 16, 2007). "Commissioner outlines league goals". Major League Soccer, L.L.C. Retrieved March 21, 2008.
  7. ^ [1], retrieved July 28, 2011.
  8. ^ Ladies Gaelic Football Na Fianna Atlanta, retrieved on November 12, 2009.
  9. ^ Shirreffs, Allison (November 14, 2005). "Peachtree race director deflects praise to others". Atlanta Business Chronicle. Retrieved January 1, 2008.