When the Braves moved to Atlanta, they were the first professional sports team to be located in the South. In 1966, the baseball team played its first season. In 1969, they won the Western Division of the National League. Throughout the 1970s, however, the Braves continued to be one of the worst professional teams. One player, however, Hank Aaron, set the 1974 record for the most home runs, in front of a television audience of millions.
In 1976, entrepreneur and billionaire Ted Turner bought the Braves. Turner owned a cable network and he wanted to play the team’s games on his channel. This was the beginning of the well known cable television station, TBS. The station televised Braves games throughout the country.
Through the 1980s, the Braves continued to play poorly. In 1991, the team hired new players. The season ended with the team winning the Western Division title. Through the early 1990s, the numbers of fans attending games rocketed to 3 million. Finally, in 1995, the Braves won the World Series. It was the first time a major league time in Georgia had won a national title. The Braves made it tot eh World Series two more times, in 1996 and 1999. Both times, however, they lost to the New York Yankees.
In 1965, the Atlanta Falcons football team joined the National Football League. Rankin M. Smith of the Life Insurance Company of Georgia purchased the team for $8.5 million.
Like the Braves, the Falcons played their first game in 1966, at Atlanta Stadium. Through the mid-1970s, the Falcons were not a particularly strong team. Beginning in 1977, the team began to improve. They reached the play-offs three times, but continued to play losing seasons through 1997.
In 1998, they played in the Super Bowl for the first time, but lost. Since 1998, the team has continued to struggle for wins. Today, Arthur Blank and Rich McKay of The Home Depot own the Falcons.
The Atlanta Hawks, a basketball team that plays in the National Basketball Association, moved to Atlanta in 1968. They play at the Philips Arena. The team moved to Atlanta from St. Louis, Missouri.
Georgia real estate developer Thomas Cousins and former Georgia Governor Carl Sanders purchased the team for Atlanta. The team went through several seasons of unsuccessful play, however. Then in 1977, Ted Turner purchased the team. IN 1980, the team won the Central Division title. Although many players and coaches have strong records as individuals, the team has never won a major championship. The Hawks are currently owned by Atlanta Spirit, a company with nine owners that also controls the Philips Arena, where they play. The Hawks are currently coached by Mike Woodson, the team’s tenth head coach since the Hawks moved to Atlanta in 1968.
The Atlanta Thrashers is a hockey team that plays in the National Hockey League. It came to Atlanta in 1999 when it was purchased by Ted Turner. Today, Atlanta Spirit owns the team. Atlanta Spirit bought the Hawks, the Thrashers, and the Philips Arena for $250 million. Although the Thrashers have yet to play a winning season, they are active in community service.