ATLANTA — One of the nation's largest domed stadiums has been destroyed in a scheduled implosion in downtown Atlanta.
Nearly 5,000 pounds of explosives were on hand to blast the Georgia Dome in Atlanta to smithereens Monday at 7:30 a.m. People gathered at windows of tall office buildings, at a nearby revolving hotel-top restaurant, in parking lots and at other areas around the scene downtown to watch the blast.
The dome opened in 1992, and officials had said it would be flattened within about 15 seconds. The Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which includes the 71,250-seat dome, had said it would take 12 seconds for the explosives to go off plus another 3 seconds for sections of grandstands to be on the ground.
The dome has been replaced by the $1.6 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium next door.
A 5-story tall industrial strength curtain between the two stadiums was on the scene to protect the new venue from damage, officials said. Only 83 feet — less than 30 yards — separates the two venues, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The new stadium is home to the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer's Atlanta United.
In addition to the retractable roof that opens like a camera lens, Mercedes-Benz Stadium boasts a 1,100-foot "halo board" video display and a giant steel sculpture of a falcon with its 70-foot wingspan at one of the main entrances.
Several streets and parts of Atlanta's transit system were closed, police said, to accommodate the blast and spectators.
The idea for the Georgia Dome dates to the mid-1980s, when civic leaders recommended a domed football stadium adjoining the city's largest convention center, the Georgia World Congress Center.
The Georgia Dome has been the site of high school football state championships, Peach Bowls, SEC championship games, two Super Bowls, 1996 Olympic basketball, three Final Four NCAA basketball tournaments, concerts, pro wrestling and other events.