So now Arthur Blank wants to spend another handful of million dollars for another new stadium in Atlanta.
Why? The one they have now is only about 20 years old, is located near traffic centers and is already up and running.
A new stadium would be yet another building for the area sports industry to support, along with a significant amount of tax money.
How many of you remember the Omni? That was a smaller, multi-purpose facility that sat where the current stadium stands. It was used for basketball, concerts and other events that drew large crowds. The one time that I saw Elvis live was in the Omni.
My father and I were in the car business. We bought, rebuilt and sold used cars. As a result, I had a rather large selection of exotic cars that I drove in that era. Among them was a pink Cadillac. Well, we called it pink because Elvis had a pink Caddy. This one was a 1960 metal flake rose. It was quite attractive, with those rocket fin rear finders, the paint job that sparkled in the sun and those tires with the narrow white stripe on them.
Getting tickets to see Elvis was a challenge. He was in Atlanta four days and the tickets sold out almost immediately. The demand was so large that the producers decided to add a Saturday afternoon matinee, and I managed to get two upper level seats.
So I gave the pink Caddy a bath to make sure it would sparkle as we drove into the parking lot, picked up my future ex-wife, drove through all the heavy traffic until we found a parking space and made our way inside.
Now I knew that we had upper level seats. I didn’t realize just how “upper” they were until we found them. Had I known, I would have taken a pair of binoculars along. When Elvis finally came on stage, we could barely see him! I guess it was good that he had gained so much weight. That made that white jump suit more visible.
It was a good concert. He was in fine voice and had the full band with him. And the important thing was that we were there. We saw him in person, not on a TV or movie screen.
After the show, the real adventure took place. We were in the middle of Atlanta, between shows. We were trying to get out to come back to Athens. At the same time, the evening crowd was trying to get in. Naturally, with all the creeping along in heavy traffic, waiting for red lights to change and the cars in front to get out of the way, the Caddy overheated. I had no choice but to find an empty parking space and wait for the engine to cool down and the traffic to thin out. Finally I was able to make it to a service station to refill the radiator and head back to Athens.
That was my only visit to the Omni. After that, work had advanced on the Fox theater and they started booking some good acts, and we attended several shows there. But that was then and this is now. As I age, I find that I dislike crowds and no longer go to the shows. I just stay home and play the music on my computer.
As for the Caddy, we sold it shortly after that trip and I drove a Studebaker for a while, then a ‘55 Chevrolet, a Dodge Dart and a long list of other models.
I started out objecting to another new stadium in Atlanta. But it is their hotel/motel tax and I have no plans to visit the city any time soon. So, as long as it is not my money, they can do as they please.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be accessed at http://www.frankgillispie.com/gillispieonline.