Nearly six years ago, while reporting on the proposed Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, I found out about a neighborhood called Lightning that once existed where the stadium would be built. Looking on an official city map, I couldn’t find any mention of Lightning. But this neighborhood kept surfacing in conversations I had with residents of other historic black neighborhoods that sat in the shadow of the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium as it was being built.
Lightning was razed to make room for the Georgia Dome, which became home to the Falcons once it opened in 1992. After building the Georgia Dome, city and state officials embarked on a quest to make Atlanta a Super Bowl host city, a goal they accomplished in 1994 and, again, in 2000. A demolition crew imploded the Georgia Dome in 2017 to make way for the site of the new $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where this upcoming Sunday thousands of football fans, clad in their New England Patriots and L.A. Rams jerseys, will watch Super Bowl LIII.