The Mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed, has hailed the 1996 Olympic Games for providing the city with a number of significant legacies, which residents are still benefiting from more than 15 years after the Games ended.
“As Mayor of the City of Atlanta, I cannot say enough about the direct and continued impact of the Centennial Olympic Games upon our city and on our goal to become one of the world’s leading cities,” he told olympic.org.
Reed went on to highlight the economic benefits of hosting the Games, which helped brand Atlanta to 70 per cent of the world’s population according to local city groups. Polls conducted before and after 1996 also revealed that positive perceptions of the city amongst corporate decision makers nearly doubled as a result of hosting the Games.
“When we hosted the Olympic Games in 1996, we staked our claim as an international city, drawing more attendees than any prior Olympics and transforming Atlanta both economically and culturally,” he said. “The Games created a direct economic impact of at least US$5bn and branded Atlanta to the world as a first-class place to do business, live and visit.”
Reed also emphasised how the city is still enjoying Games legacies, such as Centennial Olympic Park, which transformed a previously rundown 21-acre industrial district into a dazzling central gathering spot for entertainment and socialising, leading to further tourism developments in the area.
“More than 15 years later, Atlanta still benefits from its Olympic legacy and the evidence can be seen throughout downtown and surrounding neighborhoods,” he said. “The development of Centennial Olympic Park transformed a blighted area between the Georgia World Congress Center and Atlanta’s hotel district into a thriving business and tourism center. This spirit of change continued with the opening of world-class attractions such as the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola and, soon, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.”