MLS Expansion: Atlanta Back In The Mix

MLS Expansion: Atlanta Back In The Mix

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 23, 2010
  • 8 Comments
  • Atlanta Expansion, MLS Expansion

During a teleconference this afternoon Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber dropped some expansion news. First all he said Montreal would likely get their bid for 2010 very soon but we already knew that was coming. The bigger news may have been the city he mentioned for where the league could possibly go for the 20th club.

Atlanta.

Yes the Dirty South could be joining the league if the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank has anything to say about it. Garber said the sides have talked and the ball is¬†essentially¬†in Blanks court right now.

“You can’t be a national league unless you have teams in the South,” Garber said.

Atlanta is an interesting choice for an expansion site for this league. I honestly believe if the league returns to the South they need more than one team there to be a success. Atlanta isn’t my first choice but if the money is there from Blank and a good stadium is in place I see no reason not to go there. Sure the market isn’t great for sports but I do see it being a better than average soccer market in the long run.

The thing is right now with Blank he is trying to sort out a possible new stadium for the Falcons, which could take a while. I’d imagine if Blank doesn’t start to become serious about a MLS club within the next year the league will back off its stance with the city and with Blank. Garber and the league is patient about finding the right markets but they also want to get to 20 clubs pretty soon too.

If Blank can sort out his stadium situation with the Falcons and figure out where to put a MLS club it could work out in Atlanta.

I know folks in Florida are rolling their eyes at the thought of Atlanta being a possible MLS destination for the South right now. But if Blank is the only one down there willing to pony up the cash (and he has a good bit of it) there really is no reason to be mad at Atlanta. No one else is currently putting up the cash in Florida or anywhere else in the South for that matter.

For me it comes down to money and stadiums. If a potential city is backed by someone who is willing to spend and also has the means of a soccer-only stadium right away then I’m all for it…even if I think the market isn’t good for soccer (it could always grow on me).

  • Yeah Atlanta wouldn't be bad i guess. Its only a 6 hour drive there :-/ So no new rumors on Orlando, Tampa, or Miami resurfacing what ever happened to Barcelona investing in MLS and getting a Miami team going?

  • Barca backed out due to the economy and a few other factors. Nothing new in any of those cities in terms of a MLS bid though. I wouldn't bet on any of them having one anytime soon either unless a billionaire gets bored and wants a team down there.

  • OleGunnar20

    atlanta won’t be the 20th. the demographics suck for soccer. the city sucks for pro sports attendance. the only thing that makes them even remotely relevant for 5 or more years down the line is maybe blank gets interested. maybe.

    as for 20th. you are looking at a dogfight between current cities with D2 teams. St. Louis, Miami, Tampa, Minneapolis. One of them will stand out over this year and perhaps next as the most professional team with the greatest fan base, think Portland (8k) or Montreal (12k), enough to attract big money investors to partner with the existing team to bump up to MLS a la the current and future MLS expansion successes SSFC, POR, VAN, MON.

  • BroadwayJoeFYVM

    The downside to an Atlanta bid is the apathetic Atlanta fanbase, considered by many to be the worst fans in the country when it comes to actually showing up for games. And I'd wager that Blank would put the team in the Georgia Dome, which would suck hard as a soccer venue. If Atlanta gets an MLS franchise, they'd better win big really fast or they'll never make a dent there. Even that might not be enough though, so I'll give any Atlanta MLS frachise a shelf life of about 3-5 years before they either move or fold.

  • misleading

    Garber flat out said Atlanta wont be happening any time soon, and an Atlanta team is not on the agenda for MLS and Blank in the near future….. his response to the question about an Atlanta team was essentially just saying “never say never, it could happen, but there are no foreseeable plans”

  • MLS come to Miami.

  • anonymous

    Tampa could be the wild-card 20th team

  • anonymous

    Tampa could be the wild-card 20th team