Jul 27, 2023 - Sports

The $40 million sphere that almost came to Midtown during the Atlanta Olympics

A screenshot of an archival newspaper page from the mid-1990s with a headline that says "High-tech sphere on way to a landing in Midtown"

Screenshot: Courtesy of the AJC via newspapers.com

In the years running up to the 1996 Olympics, big dreamers pitched big ideas for Atlanta ranging from Maglev trains to a 720-foot-tall space needle tower with observation decks.

  • Not all became a reality, but some are still worth revisiting and remembering.
  • Take GeoNova, for example.

Details: Visioneering International, an Atlanta arts production company operated by husband and wife team Robert and Honora Foah, proposed a 135-foot sphere in the middle of Midtown wrapped with a giant projection screen displaying art, sporting events and performances.

  • The interior called for three theaters focusing on local and regional culture and the environment.
  • Plans also called for a children's museum, restaurant and a "New World Night Club" with a transparent dance floor at the top of the sphere.

Of note: GeoNova's proposed location in Midtown was never disclosed, though sites near 10th Street and 75/85 were reportedly considered.

Yes, but: In September 1995, Pepsi signed on to support the estimated $40 million project and secured the rights to advertise inside and show sponsorship messages outside the sphere.

The bottom line: A month later, Robert Foah told the AJC that the company didn't expect the dome to be operational by the Olympics without more sponsors.

  • And that's where the recorded history of the project ends.

What they're saying: The Foahs remain in Atlanta and continue producing works, including an opera series scheduled for an October debut in Rome.

  • They politely declined Axios' interview request for this story.

💭 Thomas' thought bubble: Yes, the giant sphere under construction in Las Vegas is pretty cool. But Atlanta can say we had the idea first.


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