Georgia World Congress Center
The Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) is a convention center in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Enclosing some 3.9 million ft2 (360,000 m2) in exhibition space and hosting more than a million visitors each year, the GWCC is the third-largest convention center in the United States. Opened in 1976, the GWCC was the first state-owned convention center established in the United States. The center is operated on behalf of the state by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which was chartered in 1971 by Georgia General Assembly to develop an international trade and exhibition center in Atlanta. The authority later developed the Georgia Dome, Centennial Olympic Park, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which replaced the Georgia Dome. In 2017, the Georgia Dome was closed on March 5 and demolished by implosion on November 20 while Mercedes-Benz Stadium officially opened on August 26. While the GWCCA owns Mercedes-Benz Stadium, AMB Group, the parent organization for the National Football League's Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer's Atlanta United FC, is responsible for the stadium's operations.
In addition to convention and trade shows, the GWCC often coordinated with the Georgia Dome to host activities in conjunction with major events being held at the dome. Every year, the center hosts SEC Football Fanfare, a two-day fan festival for the thousands of Southeastern Conference football fans in the city for the SEC Championship Game. The center played host to a similar event in tandem with WrestleMania XXVII, WrestleMania Axxess. Family Feud started taping at Georgia World Congress Center in 2015 and stayed there until 2017, when it moved back to Los Angeles. Feud returned to Georgia World Congress Center in August 2020.
The GWCC is located in downtown Atlanta at 285 Andrew Young International Boulevard NW, adjacent to CNN Center and State Farm Arena. Public transportation is serviced by the GWCC/CNN Center MARTA station. Delta Air Lines previously had a ticket office in the lobby of the complex.
The GWCC is made up of three adjacent buildings, Buildings A, B, and C. In total these buildings have twelve exhibit halls, 105 meeting rooms, and two ballrooms. Building A has three exhibit halls and the Sidney Marcus auditorium seating 1,740. Building B, the largest, contains five exhibit halls and the 33,000 square-foot (3,065 m 2) Thomas B. Murphy Ballroom. The newest building, Building C, has four exhibit halls and the 25,700 square-foot (2,387 m 2) Georgia Ballroom. Other amenities include a FedEx Kinko's office, coffee shops, a gift shop, internet access, telephone service, and full IT management provided by CCLD (Convention Center Long Distance), a concierge desk, and a food court plus another restaurant. Freight rail tracks run through the middle of the complex and under the parking decks. The complex incorporates pedestrian bridges to connect exhibit halls on opposite sides of the tracks.
See article: 2008 Atlanta tornado outbreak.
Designed by Atlanta-based architects tvsdesign (formerly Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates – TVS), the GWCC opened in 1976 with 350,000 square feet (33,000 m2) of exhibit space. Additional phases opened in 1985, 1992, and 2002. During the 1996 Summer Olympics, the GWCC hosted handball, fencing, judo, table tennis, weightlifting, wrestling, and the fencing and shooting portions of the modern pentathlon. The International Broadcast Centre for the worldwide media was also set up inside the GWCC.
On November 8, 2001, President George W. Bush made a speech at the GWCC in which he exhorted the crowd of police, firefighters, and politicians, "My fellow Americans, Let's roll!", He was invoking the last words of Todd Beamer, a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93 (one of the flights hijacked on September 11, 2001), who was one of the participants in an attempt to storm the cockpit and wrest control of the airplane from the hijackers. He would use the words again in the 2002 State of the Union address: "For too long our culture has said, 'If it feels good, do it.' Now America is embracing a new ethic and a new creed: 'Let's roll.'"
The center also hosted the 2009 Soul Train Music Awards, the first held outside of the Los Angeles area.
On March 14, 2008, a tornado struck Atlanta, including the downtown area. The Georgia World Congress Center was heavily damaged by the storm, including roof and water damage. In addition to rain pouring in from the holes in the roof, there was also water damage from the sprinkler system and broken water pipes. The extent of the damage led to the cancellation of immediate events. After the disaster, a letter was posted on the GWCC's website detailing the closure of the GWCC. However, the facility along with the nearby Georgia Dome was able to be repaired enough to host the FIRST Robotics World Championship during the dates of April 18–20. The Georgia Dome and the Congress Center were also ready in time for the International Career Development Conference (ICDC) run by DECA, an association of marketing students from around the country. FBLA-PBL, a student business organization, held its opening and closing sessions for the National Leadership Conference in 2008 there. The tornado was the first to hit the downtown area since weather record keeping began in the 1880s. FBLA-PBL once again held their FBLA National Leadership Conference in the Congress Center in 2016 for Opening and Closing Session, with over 12,000 attendees. DECA once again held their DECA International Career Development Conference (ICDC) in 2018 in the facility, with over 19,000 attendees.
On April 12, 2020, state officials announced plans to convert a portion of the GWCC into a temporary 200-bed hospital in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Georgia. The temporary hospital will treat coronavirus patients with mild to moderate symptoms, allowing area hospitals to allocate its resources towards treating critical patients, specifically those requiring ventilators.