Georgia State plans 8,000-seat convocation center just south of I-20

By Maggie Lee

Updated with clarification from GSU: basketball games would be played at the new center, but offices for basketball and practices will be kept at the Sports Arena.

Students entering Georgia State University this year may in four years march across an indoor stage at a new school-owned building to receive their diplomas, if all goes quickly on a design and construction schedule for a new building just south of I-20.

A $5 million bond for design of a building simply called the “Convocation Center” appears in Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed budget for the year that will begin in July.

Atlanta Track Club Half Marathon, Thanksgiving Day 2016

GSU is looking to build a new Convocation Center at Fulton Street and Hank Aaron Drive. Runners pass under the Olympic rings that span the road there, during the Atlanta Track Club Half Marathon on Thanksgiving Day in 2016. Credit: Kelly Jordan

It would be built on a roughly 6.5-acre plot on the northwest corner of Fulton Street and Capitol Avenue. That’s between Interstate 20 and the former Turner Field’s parking lots. It’s the block just west of the Ramada Hotel, and is now part paved, part grassy and all empty.

“What we’re envisioning for the proposed facility is a 200,000-square foot, multiuse state-of-the-art facility to support various athletic events, conferences, commencements, graduation ceremonies, convocation … large gatherings, concerts,” said Ramesh Vakamudi, GSU’s Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management Service.

It’ll also be the court for GSU basketball games, though the Sports Arena will continue as the home (offices, training and practice) for basketball.

“Currently we don’t have on campus a large indoor assembly area, so this facility … proposed at about an 8,000-seat capacity … would provide much sorely needed gathering space,” he said.

Right now, a maximum of 3,854 people can watch Panther basketball at the Georgia State Sports Arena. And commencement this May is scheduled for Georgia State Stadium (the old Turner Field.) In the recent past, graduation ceremonies have been at the Georgia Dome.

The entire project budget is $80 million, Vakamudi said. He expects design would take about a year and construction would take about two years.

But, the bond needs legislative approval first before anybody starts putting pencil to paper. State budget hearings are underway and will finish by the end of March.

Asked if it will have a parking deck, Vakamudi said they’re not contemplating any parking deck, though there may be some space on the site that might permit some surface parking.

And anyway, the building’s patrons will have access to plenty of parking in the huge existing parking lot on the next block south.

Elsewhere on Deal’s proposed bond list are other Fulton County builds:

  • $30.6 million bond for construction on the renovation of the Price Gilbert Library and Crosland Tower at Georgia Tech. That’s the second bond for the project; the first was $47 million approved for the fiscal year that’s underway now
  • $7.5 million bond for the construction of a pedestrian mall by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority

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