Originally created 08/02/97

A booming finale



ATLANTA (AP) - Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, the site of Hank Aaron's famous 715th home run in 1974 and where the NFL Falcons played for more than 25 years, will make its way into the history books Saturday.

The former home of the Braves, who now make their home across the street at Turner Field, will be demolished when 1,600 pounds of explosives are used to implode the stadium which brought major-league baseball to Atlanta in 1966. The Falcons also made their debut there later in 1966.

The stadium implosion will begin about 8 a.m. and will take only 27 seconds, said Steve Pettigrew, president of Franklin, Tenn.-based Demolition Dynamics inc. The stadium's support columns are expected to collapse like dominoes.

A buffer zone was set up around the stadium an hour before the implosion, said project manager Louis Mosley.

The Braves moved to Turner Field, formerly Atlanta's Olympic Stadium at the beginning of this baseball season.

To prepare for the demolition, the inside of the stadium was piled with rubble, wires and pipes. The seats where thousands of fans sat for 31 years were gone, auctioned off at an earlier date.

Crews installed the explosives on the 240 columns that support the stadium's circular decks beginning last week. Workers were expected to finish placing the explosives Friday.

It is the second Atlanta landmark to go out with a big bang in a week. The Omni, home of the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, was leveled last weekend to make way for a new basketball and hockey arena.

Once the rubble is removed following Saturday's implosion, the space will be used for additional parking for Turner Field.

There will be a monument marking the spot where Aaron's historic 715th home run landed, and perhaps a section of the fence that the ball sailed over to break Babe Ruth's record.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's kind of sad," Aaron said. "I have a lot of fond memories of this ballpark, spent a lot of days out here. But like everything else,I guess, it has to be replaced. Whether it's ballplayers or stadiums, that's the way it goes."

View implosion on @ugusta

Watch the implosion of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium on @ugusta via WRDW-TV. Streaming video will be posted shortly after 8 a.m.