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Storm-damaged clock at Philips Arena gets update

June 22,2012

Courtesy AJC.com

By Leon Stafford 

More than four years after a tornado caused extensive damage in downtown Atlanta, one of the last repairs is finally being address: the stopped but highly visible clock over a Phillips Arena parking garage near Centennial Olympic Park.

Officials at the downtown attraction are in the process of installing a new 24-foot LED timepiece on the building at at Marietta Street and Centennial Olmypic Park, as well as a giant video screen, arena spokeswoman Ailey Penningroth said.

In addition, they will create two-story lettering that spells out the city's name, a mirror of the giant "Atlanta" sign at the front of the arena, Penningroth said.

The work, which Philips leaders said will cost more than $1 million, will be completed by August.

Philips said it has taken four years to make the renovations because of design work on the new layout, upgrades made to the technology at Philips to drive the new system, and the permitting process.

"We worked with the city for more than a year and a half to ensure the design met city requirements for LED square footage," Penningroth said. "The LED portion of the marquee will now cover a total of 1,124 square feet."

Today the four-story garage is a pale imitation of its former design. The "Atlanta" lettering that used to be there was damaged by the March 2008 storm, which tore through the nearby Georgia World Congress Center before traveling east through downtown and into Cabbagetown.

Gone also is the steel facade, which was mangled by the high winds. That has left the front with only a crisscross of exposed steel beams as a curtain for the concrete garage behind it.

The clock, which was taken offline because of technical problems before the tornado, has not had hands giving the time of day for years.

Penningroth said the updates will serve a number of purposes. It will allow Philips to control the video screen -- which will measure 14 feet by 48 feet -- from inside the arena. The screen also will provide the arena with advertising space to promote Atlanta Hawks games and other events.

The clock will rotate between displaying the time of day and promoting shows at Philips such as ColdPlay, Aerosmith, Madonna and Justin Bieber.

In addition, the Philips Arena sign will be converted to LED from neon to reduce energy use and increase life expectancy.