Centennial Olympic Park is a 21 acre (85,000 m²) public park located in downtown Atlanta, Georgia owned and operated by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority. The park was built by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) as part of the infrastructure improvements for the Centennial 1996 Summer Olympics. The park plays host to millions of visitors a year and several events, including a summer popular music concert series (Wednesday WindDown) and an annual Independence Day concert and fireworks display.
The park property was previously a variety of vacant lots and abandoned or run-down industrial buildings. ACOG's chief executive, Billy Payne, conceived it as both a central gathering location for visitors and spectators during the Olympics and as a lasting legacy for the city. With the park being the showcase to the world during the Olympics, ACOG decided to hold a design competition to layout and build the park. Architect EDAW, with the construction and design firm H.J. Russell & Company entry, was selected as the winning design for the park by ACOG. Centennial Olympic Park was constructed in two phases. Phase I of construction was completed July 1996, just in time for 1996 Olympic Summer Games at a cost of $28 million USD. During the Olympics, the park contained sponsor exhibits, hosted entertainment and medal presentations, and was a hotbed for pin trading. Phase II construction took place shorty after the Olympics were over and was completed during the following year, in 1998, at the cost of $15 million USD.
The park is surrounded by many major Atlanta Landmarks; the Georgia World Congress Center, Georgia Dome, Philips Arena and the CNN Center are all on the west side of the park and the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola on the North side of the park. It is bounded by Marietta Street to the west, Baker Street to the north and Centennial Olympic Park Drive to the east and south. Andrew Young International Boulevard, named for the former Atlanta mayor and United Nations ambassador, runs through the southern portion of the park. Since 2008, the area around the park has been marketed, and increasingly referred to in the press, as the Luckie Marietta District.