Last week a huge announcement came in Atlanta from Falcons owner Arthur Blank, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed and MLS league commissioner Don Garber. The announcement confirmed what had been rumored for some time now, that the city of Atlanta would be the next location for an MLS expansion team.
Atlanta will be the 22nd team in the MLS when their expansion season starts in the 2017 MLS season. There has been a growing movement in the city of Atlanta to push for a professional soccer team and now the waiting is over — well, aside from waiting three more years for the first game, but that’s beside the point.
It makes total sense for Atlanta to have its own MLS team. For starters, the city of Atlanta was the biggest market in the United States to not have an MLS team. Also, soccer is very popular in the metro area of Atlanta and should be able to draw a good fan base.
Another thing that limited an expansion team in Atlanta for so long was the lack of a suitable venue for an MLS team to play in. Well thanks to Arthur Blank that will no longer be an issue.
The current plans are for the Atlanta Falcons to share their brand new stadium with the upcoming MLS expansion team. The Falcons new stadium will be one of the nicest in the country by the time it is finished and will provide an intimate feel for MLS games while also providing maximum seating for Falcons games.
Most professional soccer stadiums don’t hold anywhere near 70,000 fans as NFL stadiums do, but luckily the new stadium will be able to cover much of the additional upper level without making the stadium look empty. All of this is still awhile away, but from what has been told it will look very nice.
Arthur Blank himself paid the MLS expansion fee of $70 million but says that the team will definitely be owned by the fans.
The next step for the team will be to determine a name for the franchise. Message boards are being littered with different ideas from various fans around the state. There has been a big fan group established for years now called Terminus Legion which has been some of the biggest supporters, most of its members are pushing for the name of the team to include “Terminus” to pay homage to the great city of Atlanta.
There are many different options out there. Many believe that the Atlanta MLS team will keep the bird theme to match the Falcons and the Hawks. So things like Firebirds or Phoenix are very popular in these early stages.
I sure hope that the city of Atlanta will rally around this team when their opening season comes in 2017. Having an MLS team in Atlanta will do so much for the city and the team itself should expect to have great crowds. Not to mention the fact that this will potentially put the city of Atlanta in the running as one of the World Cup cities for the next time the World Cup is in America.
Regardless of the team name one thing is for sure, Atlanta is once more on the rise.
Tyler Rollason is a Winder-Barrow High School graduate and mass communications major at the University of West Georgia. He writes a weekly sports column for the Barrow Journal. You can e-mail comments about this column to email@example.com.