Former Olympic venue could see new life ahead of 2026 FIFA World Cup

The stadium hosted Olympic field hockey, was the site of a Ray Charles live album and appeared in the 2006 movie 'We Are Marshall.'
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 11:41 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Saving a piece of Atlanta’s history one soccer field at a time.

A senior advisor for the FIFA World Cup and city leaders are discussing plans to revitalize a local football stadium before the 2026 FIFA World Cup is hosted right here in Atlanta.

Council member Byron Amos said this revitalization project has his support and now it’s just up to Clark Atlanta University to approve renovations at Alonzo Herndon Stadium.

Alonzo Herndon Stadium is located in the heart of Vine City and less than a mile from Mercedes Benz Stadium.

The Alonzo Herndon Stadium is owned by Clark Atlanta University. It was built in 1948 and was named after one of the first black millionaires in the City of Atlanta.

It was later used in the 1996 Olympic Games as the site of the field hockey final.

“This stadium is the humble beginnings,” FIFA World Cup Senior Advisor and Fulton County resident, Olubunmi Jinadu said.

Now it’s closed down, with proposed plans to demolish it, and possibly replace it with luxury apartments according to Jinadu.

“They really need to reconsider before they demolish it,” Jinadu said.

Investors like Jinadu said it’s another chance for the City of Atlanta to score a legacy in the sport of soccer.

“If they decide to do this, you’re going to see such a talent influx coming from all over the world,” Jinadu said.

Jinadu said he is now in talks with the president of Clark Atlanta University to restore the 15,011-seat stadium to a state-of-the-art soccer arena for the community ahead of the FIFA World Cup coming to Atlanta in 2026.

“You’re going to see a double win not just for the stadium Mercedes Benz, but for that particular stadium. You’re going to see exhibition games, you’re going to see training camps, and it’s going to be a domino effect in the sports value chain,” Jinadu said.

Jinadu has the support of Atlanta City Council member Byron Amos who oversees Vine City and District Three.

“Soccer is the future. So here is a chance for us to kill two birds with one stone. Saving a historic piece of value in our culture and our city but also we will be given the opportunity for future children and for future people to play soccer,” District Three Atlanta City Council member Byron Amos said.

Jinadu said investors have seen the feasibility study and are ready to invest.

“For the funding right now there are several investors and they see the vision clearly, it’s not that hard,” Jinadu said.

President of Clark Atlanta University Dr. George French told Atlanta News First, “ We haven’t been approached about the project, however, we are already in contractual development for the property.”