Saturday’s SEC Football Championship Game is one of significance for the Georgia Dome, as it will be the last to be played at the venue.
The Georgia Dome has hosted the SEC Championship game for more than 20 years, with the first contest to be played at the stadium taking place in 1994. At the time, the Georgia Dome was still a new, state-of-the-art-NFL facility, having opened for the Atlanta Falcons just two years earlier.
In the present day, however, time is winding down for the Georgia Dome. The Falcons are set to move into Mercedes-Benz Stadium next year, and will be followed by many of the Georgia Dome’s longstanding events, including the SEC Championship.
In that context, Saturday’s contest represents a watershed moment for the Georgia Dome—a reminder that its end is near. Following the finale for one of its signature annual events, the Georgia Dome will have just a few notable football games left on its calendar. The Georgia High School Association Finals will take place at the Dome over the weekend of December 9-10, followed by the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl on December 17.
New Year’s Eve will also mark another notable finale, as the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl will make its final appearance at the Georgia Dome. Like the SEC Championship Game, that contest will shift to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2017.
While those events represent the end of high school and college football at the Georgia Dome, it does have a chance to host more NFL action. The Falcons currently lead the NFC South and, if that holds, the team would host at lease one home playoff game. Otherwise, the Falcons will close out their run at the Georgia Dome with the regular season finale against the New Orleans Saints on January 1.
At some point in 2017, the Georgia Dome will be demolished, in part to create additional space around Mercedes-Benz Stadium when it opens next fall. As that time comes closer, the SEC Championship Game will be a good opportunity to reflect on the venue. Fittingly, the two teams taking the field for the last SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome are the same that faced off in the conference’s first contest at the stadium—Florida and Alabama.
Since its inception in 1992, the SEC Championship Game has become one of college football’s biggest annual events. The Georgia Dome was the site of many of the game’s memorable moments, and Saturday’s contest will provide one last opportunity to create new memories.
Image courtesy Georgia Dome.
This article first appeared in the weekly Football Stadium Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? It’s free, and you’ll see features like this before they appear on the Web. Go here to subscribe to the Football Stadium Digest newsletter.