Olympic Strategy of Downtown Atlanta Business Elites: A Case Study of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics
Batuhan, Tuna (author)
Brown, Jeffrey Richard, 1970- (professor directing dissertation)
Berry, Frances Stokes (university representative)
Butler, William H. (William Hale) (committee member)
Chapin, Timothy Stewart (committee member)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
College of Social Sciences and Public Policy (degree granting college)
Department of Urban and Regional Planning (degree granting department)
The goal of this research is to understand the role, influence, and attitudes of downtown Atlanta business elites on downtown redevelopment policies. The downtown business elites has dominated the local politics of Atlanta for decades in order to achieve their redevelopment objectives. This research investigates the behavior of Atlanta business elites on downtown redevelopment policies from 1950s to 2000s in light of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games experience. This research explored the interplay between Atlanta's downtown business elites and the city elected officials as well as other interested parties in order to analyze the power and involvement of elites on the urban policy-making process. This study is grounded in urban regime theory to analyze how the business elites of downtown Atlanta attempted to transform Atlanta from a regional-national hub into an international city using the city's hosting of the Olympic Games as a convenient vehicle to implement their vision. First, the author lays out the picture in 1950s by introducing the regime actors in Atlanta and by explaining how the regime was shaped and has evolved over decades. Next, the author investigates how the business elites used the Olympics as a convenient vehicle to implement their own vision for downtown redevelopment. Finally, the author discusses the short- and long-term impacts of the Olympics on downtown Atlanta redevelopment. By establishing a connection between the Olympic bidding idea, Olympic legacy, and the changing role of downtown Atlanta business elites in urban policy-making process, this study contributes to the body of literature in urban politics by linking the regime theory and mega-event literature to expand the understanding of Atlanta's local political power structure and the city's policy dynamics in light of the 1996 Olympic experience. The results indicate that the regime in Atlanta has changed since its creation because of several internal and external factors, including the relative decline of downtown Atlanta, growing and attractive competitive suburbs, and changing demographics. Local growth advocates have promoted Atlanta first as a regional, then a national, and finally an international city. The Olympic bid was a logical result of the existing regime in Atlanta seeks to transform the city into a world-stage player. Downtown Atlanta business elites sought to use the Olympics as a convenient strategy to create an international city image, reverse the declining trend of office and retail businesses in downtown, and to increase the primacy of downtown Atlanta over growing suburbs in the region. The elites seized the opportunity presented by a potential Olympic hosting in Atlanta to make promises and implement a vision that revitalizes certain downtown areas. Atlanta's Olympic strategy gave positive results in the short-run, however did not help to increase the primacy of downtown Atlanta in the long term due to short-term focused strategies selected by downtown business elites as well as prioritized regional issues and shifted focus of business elites to regional growth. The findings suggest that regime theory has limited ability to explain the changes in governing coalition.
Atlanta, Business Elites, Olympic Games
June 24, 2015.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Urban and Regional Planning in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Jeffrey R. Brown, Professor Directing Dissertation; Frances Berry, University Representative; William H. Butler, Committee Member; Timothy S. Chapin, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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