photo by Perry McIntyre/ISIphotos.com
By CAITLIN MURRAY
It’s official: Atlanta has been awarded an expansion team in Major League Soccer.
Atlanta will begin play in 2017 as the 22nd franchise in MLS, the league announced Wednesday. The team, not yet named, will be owned by Arthur Blank, who also owns the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
Blank agreed to pay $70 million as an expansion fee, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The payment can be delayed until just prior to their first game, expected to be in March 2017. Blank had first looked at owning an MLS franchise in 2004.
The team’s colors will be red, white and gold in line with the Falcons’ original colors, but a nickname and logo is forthcoming. Fans will be asked to provide suggestions for the name, according to an MLS press release.
“We are very excited to bring a Major League Soccer team to Atlanta,” Blank said Wednesday. “We are going to build a first-class organization on and off the field that will be a source of pride for the entire community, and we believe our downtown stadium will become a destination for soccer fans throughout the Southeast for many years to come.”
The team will play in a new stadium planned for downtown Atlanta that will be the home of both the MLS club and the Falcons. The configurable stadium will feature a retractable roof and a seating capacity of 29,322 for soccer matches. It will reportedly cost around $1.2 billion to build.
“Atlanta is one of the largest and most diverse markets in North America and has a rich tradition in sports and culture,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. “And with Arthur Blank joining our ownership group, we are adding one of the most respected owners in professional sports. Arthur is deeply passionate about soccer and our quest to become one of the top professional soccer leagues in the world.”
Atlanta will begin accepting $50 season-ticket deposits for their debut 2017 season immediately.
What do you think of this news? Is this good for MLS? How do the details regarding the stadium and team identity sound to you? Will you be supporting an Atlanta team in MLS?
Share your thoughts below.