For nearly 20 years, a large structure has stood near the intersection of Fulton Street and Capitol Avenue, welcoming Braves fans to Turner Field.
It has become routine to pass under the structure without even looking up to appreciate what it meant to the world two decades ago. In terms of a photo op, people hardly even stop to Instagram it anymore.
But it’s the only one our city has, and most cities don’t even have one, so it’s time we started treating it better.
I’m talking about the cauldron that contained the Olympic flame in the summer of 1996 when Atlanta hosted the Summer Games. After the Olympics ended, the cauldron was removed from the stadium and placed up the street at a new location that’s really not all that symbolic.
Since the Braves will be moving out of the stadium and the entire area is about to be rebuilt by Georgia State University, there’s no need to allow the cauldron to be swallowed up and further forgotten amongst dormitories and college stadiums. The city needs to move it to a place where it might actually be appreciated: Centennial Olympic Park.
The park was a gathering place for thousands during the 1996 Summer Games, and it was arguably, other than the main stadium, the most important venue for fans. It’s still a focal point of the city, surrounded by the Georgia Aquarium, CNN Center and numerous other tourist attractions.
When the world comes to visit Atlanta, we should give them a chance to see the cauldron, and not just as an afterthought next to Interstate 75. Many venues from the 1996 Olympics have begun to fade, but the cauldron still looks great and requires minimal maintenance. It only costs the city about $2,500 a year, according to AJC.com.
Twenty years is long enough for such an important symbol to sit in such an unimportant location. It’s time to give the cauldron the prominent display it has long deserved.
Image via 11alive.comFollow @Sean_Breslin