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Alexander Memorial Coliseum
The Thrillerdome
Alexander Memorial Coliseum SW view.jpg
Former names Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonalds Center (1996-2005)
Location 965 Fowler St, Atlanta, Georgia 30332
Coordinates 33°46′51″N 84°23′34″W / 33.78083°N 84.39278°W / 33.78083; -84.39278Coordinates: 33°46′51″N 84°23′34″W / 33.78083°N 84.39278°W / 33.78083; -84.39278
Opened November 30, 1956
Owner Georgia Tech
Operator Georgia Tech
Construction cost $1.6 million
Architect Aeck Associates of Atlanta
Capacity 9,191
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Men's & women's basketball)
Atlanta Hawks (NBA) (1968-1972, 1997-1999)

The Alexander Memorial Coliseum (also nicknamed The Dome or the Thrillerdome) is an indoor arena located in Atlanta, Georgia. It is the home of the basketball teams of Georgia Tech and hosted the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA from 1968–1972 and again from 1997–1999.[1] Tech's women's volleyball team occasionally uses the facility as well, primarily for NCAA tournament games and other matches that draw crowds that would overflow the O'Keefe Gymnasium.[2]



The 270-foot diameter Alexander Coliseum opened in 1956 at the intersection of 10th Street and Fowler on the northeast end of the Georgia Tech campus. [1] It served as a replacement for the Third Street Gymnasium (later known as the Heisman Gym) on the campus of Georgia Tech, an 1,800 seat arena opened just eighteen years before.[3] (That gym was demolished in 1994 to make way for the expansion of the north stands at Bobby Dodd Stadium.) The arena's original capacity was 6,996 seats, though crowds larger than that sometimes assembled for big games. It has undergone three major renovations. In 1986, 2150 seats were added in what was previously an upper walkway around the rim of the arena. In 1989–1990, 750 seats were added in the endzone areas. The last major renovation was during 1995–1996, prior to the 1996 Summer Olympics. The floor was lowered four feet to increase seating, twelve luxury suites were added, and many of the benches were replaced with chairback seats. Sightlines were also improved for those sitting in the first few rows of the side of the court opposite the benches.[1]

Connected to the south end of the Coliseum are the Luck Building,[1] constructed in the 1980s, and the Coliseum Annex,[4] which was constructed slightly before the Coliseum itself. The Coliseum Annex houses locker rooms, a practice gym, and the offices of Georgia Tech Facilities. The top floor of the Coliseum Annex housed the studios of radio station WGST prior to 1975 and the student radio station, WREK, from 1978 to 2004.

Like many teams, Tech squads have been extremely successful on their home court, but winning only explains part of the affection and loyalty that Tech fans feel for Alexander. Fans enter the building onto a concourse with arena entrances that are near the top row of the seats (they were at the top prior to the 1986 addition of 10 rows) and are greeted by a gleaming court below them and an enormous open space under arches that rise several hundred feet above the floor. The result for spectators is an experience that feels both intimate and raucous in a setting that is spacious and grand. Many buildings offer unobstructed views of the court, but few have such a high percentage of the seats so close to the action. Those fortunate enough to sit right behind either goal can sometimes hear conversations between players and coaches, at least when the noise levels aren’t deafening. They often are, though, reflecting the success that Tech’s teams have enjoyed at the Dome over the last half-century.


View of Alexander Memorial Coliseum from the southeast

The building was named for William A. Alexander in 1956.[5] Alexander was the Tech football coach from 1920-1944 and the third athletic director (after John W. Heisman);[1] his tenure as coach included the 1929 Rose Bowl team.[6] The facility was known as the Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald's Center for 10 seasons from 1996 to 2005[7] in conjunction with a $5.5 million donation to help pay for the mid-1990s renovation. Today, the arena seats 9,191.[1] A McDonald's restaurant was added during the last renovation but has since closed. The "golden arches" on the signs remain pursuant to their corporate donation. The McDonalds era was marked by fans constantly wearing paper crown-shaped hats of rival Burger King in protest.

During the 1996 Summer Olympics, the arena hosted the Olympic boxing tournament.[1]

The Coliseum played host to the Atlanta Hawks after they moved from St. Louis while The Omni was under construction,[8] and again between 1997 and 1999, after the Omni was demolished and while Philips Arena was being built on its site. During the latter period, the Hawks played most of their home games at the Georgia Dome with the remainder at the Coliseum.[9]

For most of its life, the Coliseum has hosted many rounds of the Georgia High School Association men's and women's state tournament games. The first integrated high school state tournament in Georgia history was played there before record overflow crowds in 1967.

The arena received its nickname, "The Thrillerdome," from former Tech color radio announcer and current ESPN broadcaster Brad Nessler, for the many close games it witnessed during the 1983-84 season. Tech students also refer to the arena as "The Tit" and following the McDonalds sponsored renovation, many students jokingly called the dome "McTit" .

On February 21, 2008, the men's basketball game between Georgia Tech and the University of Virginia was cancelled due to a leak in the roof that was caused by hard rainfall that had accumulated over the day. The decision to cancel the game was based on the fact that officials at the game could not find where the water was coming through and because officials had no way to stop it. The game was delayed for about a half-hour, and then ultimately postponed until March 3, 2008.[10]

On March 14, 2008, a tornado ripped through downtown Atlanta, causing damage to the CNN Center, Philips Arena, and Georgia Dome. During the weekend, the SEC was set to play at the Georgia Dome on Thursday through Sunday. The tornado struck while the third of four quarterfinal games was in overtime. While that game was completed, SEC officials decided not to risk playing the fourth. Later that night, the conference decided to move the 2008 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament to the smaller Coliseum, including the Championship Game. Due to the smaller capacity, only players' families, school officials, credentialed media and 400 fans from each school were allowed to attend the remaining games.[11]


The Coliseum is located just next to the Downtown Connector, Atlanta's major Interstate thoroughfare. It is just south of 10th Street, on the northeast corner of the Georgia Tech campus.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Alexander Memorial Coliseum at, URL accessed November 5, 2009. Archived 11/5/09
  2. ^ Georgia Tech Volleyball Hosts Final Scrimmage Saturday at, URL accessed November 5, 2009. Archived 11/5/09
  3. ^ Kentucky's Heisman Gymnasium Record, URL accessed November 5, 2009. Archived 11/5/09
  4. ^ Building Detail, URL accessed November 5, 2009. Archived 11/5/09
  5. ^ Tech Timeline: 1950s
  6. ^ Rose Bowl 1929 at, URL accessed November 5, 2009. Archived 11/5/09
  7. ^ Antiguos y actuales estadios por equipo at, URL accessed November 5, 2009. Archived 11/5/09
  8. ^ 1968-72: Hawks Fly South To New Home at, URL accessed November 5, 2009. Archived 11/5/09
  9. ^ 1997-98: Hawks Overcome Obstacles at, URL accessed November 5, 2009. Archived 11/5/09
  10. ^ Leaking roof delays start of Virginia-Georgia Tech game at, URL accessed November 5, 2009. Archived 11/5/09
  11. ^ Friends and family only: an SEC tournament like no other at, URL accessed November 5, 2009. Archived 11/5/09


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