March 27, 1998, was the last chance Hawks fans had to see Michael Jordan and the Bulls dancing their last dance. It was the night NBA’s all-time attendance record was set, and 22 years later, it still stands.
The Hawks were playing games in the Georgia Dome at the time, waiting for their arena to be constructed. The stadium seated 71,228 for football, approximately 80,000 for concerts, and 71,000 for basketball when the stadium fully opened and 40,000 for basketball and gymnastics when the stadium was sectioned off.
The first game the Bulls played there was in November, earlier in the season, and it had an attendance of 45,790 people. It was a challenge to handle that many people, so 48 hours before the game on March 27, it was announced that no more than 57,000 people would be able to attend the game.
But, the Hawks decided to sell extra tickets, and on that evening in March, 62,046 fans got to see MJ play his last game as a Chicago Bull in Atlanta. Jordan finished the night with 34 points, five rebounds, four assists, and a blocked shot in a 89-74 victory.
“They sold 8,046 bad seats at $5 in two days to set the all-time attendance record for the NBA, raising more than $40,000 for North Georgia victims of this month’s deadly tornadoes. And they could feel good about it. The evening went off without a hitch.
Based on the Dome’s inability to deal well with the onslaught of 45,790 who came to see the Bulls play the Hawks in November, Johnson was admittedly fearful for the safety of the larger throng expected for what might have been Michael Jordan’s last visit Friday.
But minutes before the gates opened Friday, Johnson said he was a happy man. ‘For the Hawks and for the city of Atlanta.’”
Everyone knew it was a historic night, and I’m quite sure most of those 62,046 tickets are stored somewhere. A lasting memory of the last time they got to see the greatest in action.