Tuesday Talk: Georgia World Congress Center eyes the 43-year mark

Tuesday Talk rounds up the latest Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) news you might have missed and also points forward to upcoming events on our campus.

Forty-three years ago this week, what was perceived as a sleepy Southern town took big steps toward attaining its current international profile.

At 8 a.m. Sept. 4, 1976 a skeleton crew of 38 moved into the partially-completed state-owned-and-operated George L. Smith II Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) in downtown Atlanta to get ready for the convention center’s first show – opening in four days.

The next day, Sept. 5, 1976, according to the GWCC’s 1976-1977 Annual Report, “Shepard Convention Services entered the facility to begin preparation and set up for the Bobbin Show/AAMA (the American Apparel Manufacturers Association) Convention.”

The Bobbin Show, which opened Sept. 8, 1976, featured 135,000 net square feet of exhibits and displays in what is now known as Building A, and was described in the annual report as “a tremendous success.”

Exhibitors and attendees at the Georgia World Congress Center’s first-ever show, the 1976 Bobbin Show.

The GWCC and the GWCCA campus have grown and evolved quite a bit in the four decades since, with two buildings added to the convention center, the Georgia Dome built and then demolished, the addition of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, parking facilities, and the construction of Centennial Olympic Park. Meanwhile, work continues on the GWCC’s 100,000-square-foot, $55 million expansion exhibit hall slated for a December completion, a new 500- space parking deck is under construction, and the Authority is moving forward with the development of Signia by Hilton, the on-campus highrise convention hotel.

Setting the stage for what was to come for the No. 1 convention sports and entertainment destination in the world, the official grand opening ceremonies for the GWCC weren’t held until December 1976. Dubbed “Georgia On Parade,” the GWCC’s opening celebration featured approximately 350 Georgia businesses and organizations displaying their services and products Dec. 1-5 at the GWCC, attracting 80,000 attendees. “The festivities included exhibit displays, stage shows, continuous entertainment was highlighted daily with a full-fledged parade through the exhibition hall,” according to an excerpt from the annual report.

And that report’s summary concluded: “the Center is rapidly growing in national recognition as one of the premier facilities in the country; yes, even the world, today.”


Ace Hardware, the place with the helpful hardware folks, hosts two private conventions each year, and the fall iteration is upon us this week at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC), with an emphasis on outdoor living and garden products. With an expected attendance of 15,000 over the weekend, the Ace Hardware Fall Convention and Exhibits kicks off with an opening reception on Thursday evening (Sept. 5) and then swings into full action on Friday (Sept. 6) with general sessions and exhibits. The convention continues through Sunday (Sept. 8).

Herzing University will hold a commencement service from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday (Sept. 6) at the GWCC’s Georgia Ballroom in Building C, with an expected attendance of 3,000.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, ONE Musicfest makes its Centennial Olympic Park debut Saturday (Sept. 7) and Sunday (Sept. 8). The lineup of heavy-hitting artists includes Gucci Mane, Rae Stremmurd, Rick Ross, Pharrell Williams, Usher, Wu-Tang Clan, and many more. Get tickets here.

Across the street at State Farm Arena, there are two Atlanta Dream games on tap this week. First up, the Dream takes on the Las Vegas Aces at 7 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 5). And Atlanta’s ladies of the WNBA suit up again for a roundball clash against the New York Liberty at 4 p.m. Sunday.