History

Old GWCCThe Georgia World Congress Center opened its doors in 1976 as one of the nation's premier convention facilities with 350,000-square-feet of exhibit space. Today, the facility features 1.4 million square feet of exhibit space, making the GWCC one of the top five largest convention centers in the country. Over the years, the Georgia World Congress Center underwent numerous expansions to meet the needs of growing conventions and special events. Take a look back at how the Georgia World Congress Center became what it is today.

Old GWCC 1971
The Georgia General Assembly passes legislation establishing the Georgia World Congress Center Board, later renamed the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, to develop an international trade and exhibition center in Atlanta.

1974
On October 30, groundbreaking ceremony celebrates initial construction of the Georgia World Congress Center.

1976
The Georgia World Congress Center officially opens its first exhibition hall on September 8 to host the Bobbin Show/American Apparel Manufacturers Association.

1981
The Georgia General Assembly authorizes general obligation bond funding to construct the Phase II expansion. Groundbreaking ceremonies held September 17.

1985
The Georgia World Congress Center officially celebrates the completion of the Phase II expansion project on April 26, which adds 1.1 million square feet.

1988
Based on a feasibility study and market analysis, the Georgia General Assembly approves general obligation bonds for land acquisition and design development for about 300,000 square feet of additional exhibition space.

1990
Construction begins on a new home for the Atlanta Falcons. The 71,250-seat Georgia Dome will be located next to the Georgia World Congress Center and will host year-round sporting events and concerts.

1992
The GWCC Phase III expansion is completed increasing the facility's exhibit space to 950,000 square feet in eight exhibit halls. During the same year, the Georgia Dome, the largest cable-supported domed stadium in the world, opens its doors and hosts its first Atlanta Falcons home game.

1995
In preparation for Atlanta hosting the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, construction begins on the 21-acre Centennial Olympic Park - a gathering place for concerts, exhibits, food and more.

1996
From July 19 to August 4, the Georgia World Congress Center campus comes alive during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. The GWCC hosts seven Olympic-sporting events and is home to the International Broadcast Center. The Georgia Dome hosts gymnastics, basketball and team handball. Centennial Olympic Park serves as the world's gathering place during the games.

1999
In March, the Georgia General Assembly approved funding for construction of the Phase IV expansion of the Georgia World Congress Center.

2002
Grand opening ceremonies for the completion of the 1.1 million square foot Phase IV expansion makes the Georgia World Congress Center one of the largest convention centers in the United States with the addition of 420,000 square feet of prime exhibit space.

2008
A tornado rips through Downtown Atlanta hitting all three buildings of the Georgia World Congress Center, the Georgia Dome and Centennial Olympic Park. Despite thousands of people being on campus, no one was hurt. Just 42 days later, all areas of the campus were open for events.

2009
After 33 years at the helm of one of the nation’s largest convention, sports and entertainment complexes, Dan Graveline retires. As the Authority’s only Executive Director, the three venues generated more than $40 billion in economic impact for Georgia and the city of Atlanta during Graveline’s tenure.

2010
Frank Poe is appointed as the second Executive Director of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority. A 38-year convention center veteran from Dallas, Poe was director of the Dallas Convention Center prior to accepting the GWCCA position.