DISCLAIMER: I have never been to Atlanta. Much of this information is from the Hawks' website.
MARTA's 3-stripes logo of blue, yellow and orange is reminiscent of New Jersey Transit's blue, purple and orange. A single trip on any MARTA train is $2.50, the same as New York's. A 10-trip is no bargain at $25. The subway started running with tokens in 1979, and switched to farecards in 2006.
Going In. Philips Arena, named for the Dutch electronics company, and opened in 1999 on the site of the former Hawks arena, The Omni, is part of the Georgia World Congress Center complex, at Marietta Street & Centennial Olympic Park Drive NW, which also includes the Georgia Dome, the site of the new Falcons' stadium and CNN headquarters.
The official address is 1 Philips Drive. If you're driving, parking costs $13. If you're not, take MARTA's Blue or Green Line to Dome-GWCC-Philips Arena-CNN Station. Hawk Walk is a street that connects the station, the arena and the CNN headquarters.
There are steel columns on the Georgia Dome side of the arena that spell out "ATLANTA," and on the CNN side that spell out "CNN." Other than that, there's not much about it that's remarkable, at least not architecturally.
The Philips Arena was the home of the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers from 1999 to 2011, before they moved to become the new version of the Winnipeg Jets. The WNBA's Atlanta Dream, named for Atlanta native Martin Luther King's 1963 March On Washington speech, also plays there.
The center scoreboard at Philips is the same one from The Omni, with some modern touches added. It retains the Omni logo.
Team History Displays. The Hawks have officially retired 3 numbers: Number 9, forward Bob Pettitt, 1954-65 (their last season in Milwaukee and their 1st 10 in St. Louis); Number 21, forward Dominique Wilkins, 1982-94; and Number 23, forward Lou Hudson, 1966-77 (their last 2 seasons in St. Louis and their 1st 9 in Atlanta). Center Jason Collier played the 2004-05 season with the Hawks, and then died from an enlarged heart at age 28. The Hawks have not retired his Number 40, but they have removed it from circulation.
The Hawks make no mention of their St. Louis era, aside from the Pettit and Hudson banners. Banners for their 4 Division titles in their Atlanta era -- 1970, 1980, 1987 and 1994 -- are at one end of the arena, flanked by the Pettit and Hudson banners on one side, and banners for Wilkins and the team logo on the other.
Stuff. Hawksshop stores can be found in the arena and along Hawk Walk, selling pretty much any kind of memorabilia you could find at any other arena.
While there are several good books about Atlanta's favorite team, the Braves, the Hawks have hardly any written about them. Earlier this year, as part of the NBA's A History of Hoops series, Jim Whiting published The Story of the Atlanta Hawks. That's about as good as it's going to get until the Hawks actually make a serious run at a title. And as for DVDs with the Hawks as the subject, I searched Amazon.com and found exactly none.
It's almost as if the Hawks don't exist. And, at the rate they're going, soon, they won't -- at least, not in the Big Peach.
During the Game. Atlanta can be a rough city, but, aside from a brief rivalry with the Orlando Magic when each team had some Georgia natives on their roster, they don't have any real rivalries. (Despite the Charlotte Hornets, New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies being regional rivals, they're not that close -- certainly not like the Boston-New York-Philly-Washington corridor.) NFL Falcons and Georgia Tech college football games might be good places to keep your guard up. But Hawks fans are not going to pick fights with you. As I said, they barely care enough to show up. You do not have to worry about wearing Knicks, Nets, or any other team’s, gear in Philips Arena. Hawks fans will generally not act like New York, Philadelphia or Boston fans and get snippy (or worse, rough) because of it.
Mazzy’s, at 2217 Roswell Road in Marietta, is the home of the local Jets fan club, but it's 20 miles north, and forget about reaching it by public transportation. The club also lists Bada Bing's, at 349 Decatur Street SE, just 1 stop east of Five Points on the MARTA Green Line (fitting), but they claim Mazzy's is their "perfect place."
A Facebook page titled “Mets Fans Living In Atlanta” was no help. Your best bet may be to research hotel chains, to find out which ones New Yorkers tend to like, and meet up with fellow N'Yawkuhs (or N'Jerseyans) there.
* Georgia Dome and site of The Omni. They’re next-door to Philips Arena. The Georgia Dome has been home to the Falcons since 1992 and has hosted the SEC Championship Game. It hosted the NCAA Final Four in 2002 (Maryland beating Indiana), 2007 (Florida beating Ohio State), and 2013 (Louisville over Michigan). The CNN Center is adjacent to the arena.
The Omni had to be replaced because the architects built it with steel that didn't hold up in Georgia's humid climate, and so, by the late 1990s, they had a 25-year-old arena that was in roughly the shape of one 75 years old. So The Omni had to go. The Philips Arena is built with more resistant steel, and should last for a while. (Then again, you never know: Following the "death" of The Omni at age 25, Turner Field is going to die at age 20, and the Georgia Dome at 26.)
Elvis Presley sang there on June 21, 29, 30 and July 3, 1973; April 30, May 1 and 2, 1975; June 4, 5, 6 and December 30, 1976.
A new retractable-roof stadium for the Falcons, and for a proposed Atlanta team for Major League Soccer, is planned for just south of the Georgia Dome, which, presumably, will be demolished -- like Turner Field, remarkably soon after its construction. Like the new Braves ballpark, it's expected to open in time for its sport's 2017 season.
* Turner Field and site of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Home to the Southern Association’s Atlanta Crackers in their last season, 1965; to the Braves from 1966 to 1996; and to the NFL Falcons from 1966 to 1991. It was in what’s now the parking lot north of Turner Field.
Turner Field was built as the centerpiece of the 1996 Olympics, and then the northern end of the 80,000-seat track & field stadium was torn down to make way for the bleachers of the 51,000-seat ballpark, opening the following spring. The Braves made the Playoffs every season there from 1997 to 2005, and again in 2011 and 2013. So far, though, they've won just 1 Pennant there, in 1999, and got swept by the Yankees.
Georgia Avenue and Pollard Blvd. The official address is 755 Hank Aaron Drive SE. MARTA 55 bus from Five Points station.
* Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The Georgia Institute of Technology (a.k.a. Georgia Tech) has played basketball here at “the Thrillerdome” since 1956, and recently completed a renovation. This building, named for legendary football coach Bill Alexander, also hosted the Hawks from their 1968 arrival from St. Louis to The Omni’s opening in 1972, and again from 1997 to 1999 while Philips was built on The Omni’s site. 965 Fowler Street NW. MARTA Gold or Red to Midtown.
The park also hosted high school football and the occasional prizefight, including the last fight of Jack Dempsey, in 1940, when he was 45 years old and beat pro wrestler Clarence "Cowboy" Luttrell.
But the proposed move would also get them out of the majority-black Atlanta and into the center of mostly-white, Tea Party-country Georgia. Gee, I wonder if there's a connection, especially now that the famously inclusive Ted Turner no longer owns the team? (Ironically, Tea Party groups have opposed the building of the stadium, citing the taxes that would have to be implemented for it.)
* Dahlberg Hall. Formerly the Atlanta Municipal Auditorium, this structure opened in 1909, and was the longtime home of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra until 1968, when Woodruff Arts Center opened. In 1970, it was the site of Muhammad Ali's return to boxing, after his legal exile. He knocked Jerry Quarry out in the 3rd round.
In 1979, Georgia State University bought the Auditorium, and converted it into their alumni hall, renaming it for alumnus Bill Dahlberg. Courtland Street & Auditorium Place SE. Just 5 blocks east of Five Points, and within walking distance.
* Non-Sports Sites. There’s the Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum, 800 Cherokee Avenue SE, which tells the true story of that fire you saw in Gone With the Wind. At the other end of the spectrum, giving all people their equal due, is the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site at 449 Auburn Avenue NE, which includes the house that was Dr. King’s birthplace and boyhood home, the Ebenezer Baptist Church where he and his father Martin Sr. preached, and his tomb. The King Memorial stop on MARTA's Blue and Green Lines serves both the King Center and the Cyclorama.
Elvis sang at the historic Fox Theater early in his career, giving 6 shows in 2 days, March 14 and 15, 1956. 660 Peachtree Street NE at Ponce de Leon Avenue. MARTA Gold or Red to North Avenue. He topped that from June 22 to 24, giving 10 shows in 3 days (including a personal record 4 on the 23rd -- he was a lot younger then) at the Paramount Theater, next-door to the Loew's Grand Theater, famous for being the site of the world premiere of Gone With the Wind. Both the Paramount and the Loew's Grand (which burned in a suspected insurance scam in 1978) have been demolished, and replaced by the Georgia-Pacific Tower. John Wesley Dobbs Avenue & Peachtree Street NE. MARTA Gold or Red to Peachtree Center.
But if your mission is simply to have a good time in an unfamiliar city, and to “cross one more arena off your list,” then, by all means, go, stay safe, and have fun.