By DAN KARELL
Atlanta is looking more and more likely to be one of four sites that Major League Soccer plans to expand to by 2020.
A report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution states that billionaire owner Arthur Blank is in “significant discussions” with MLS and Don Garber to bring a new team to the capital city. Blank, who owns the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, received some good news on Thursday in his efforts to build a new stadium for the Falcons, and previous reports have stated that he’d like the stadium to house an MLS team as well.
The city of Atlanta found enough private money to buy a piece of property on the land that the Falcons would like to build their stadium on. The stadium is expected to be finished in 2017, and could cost an estimated $1 billion.
Atlanta is no stranger to soccer, and the summer of 2013 has been very kind to the city. The NASL’s Atlanta Silverbacks won the NASL Spring Season title, while the Georgia Dome hosted a Gold Cup doubleheader this summer with an announced crowd of 54,229, a record attendance for soccer at the Dome.
Back in April, Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay said to the Atlanta Business Chronicle that the team and ownership group were open to a number of options when it comes to operating an MLS franchise in the city of Atlanta.
“We believe that a world-class city like Atlanta needs a Major League Soccer team, and that Major League Soccer will be very successful here,” , McKay said. “We are trying to facilitate that happening by configuring a new stadium to accommodate the requirements of professional soccer.”
Back to the Atlanta Journal Constitution report, even if there is no MLS team in Atlanta when the stadium opens, the report states that there have been discussions about hosting an MLS match there anyway.
On Wednesday, Garber told TSN while in Toronto, Canada that three of the four potential expansion franchises were “already spoken for.” Atlanta might just count themselves in that list.
What do you think of this report? Do you like the idea of MLS in Atlanta? Do you believe they could support a team? Do you see the league expanding to multiple teams in the southeast United States?
Share your thoughts below.