Atlanta Expansion Is Different But In A Good Way

Atlanta Expansion Is Different But In A Good Way

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On April 17, 2014
  • MLS Atlanta, MLS Expansion

I’ve heard a lot of pros and cons for MLS expanding into Atlanta. So many points and counterpoints to keep up with but the best way to put it is that expanding into Georgia is just flat out different but in a good way for MLS.

[quote align=’right’]”This franchise … will be owned by the fans. It’s to create a unique opportunity for you our fans, our owners, to feel that ownership and to help drive that uniqueness that soccer presents.” – Arthur Blank[/quote]First off, people are worried that Arthur Blank, a NFL owner will be very similar to the Kraft family in New England. Honestly, I don’t see it happening that way. More and more I tell people that Blank and Atlanta will likely be more in the middle of the pack in terms of MLS clubs and how they are run than being closer to a Seattle or on the other spectrum with New England.

Blank also wants this to succeed. He spoke yesterday to the emotion that soccer brings out in people. That is good to hear if you are skeptical of this expansion club. Blank is already promising that the supporters will have a large say in what the team will be named and how their logo will look. We do know though that the team will be a shade of red, black with some gold mixed in. That much was pretty obvious by the scarf that was given to him by MLS commissioner Don Garber.

Secondly, the stadium situation isn’t perfect. I know there are folks out there that laugh that MLS is so quick to add these cities with no real stadium plans like New York City FC and Miami while adding a team in Atlanta that will share a large NFL venue. Yes, it isn’t perfect but it is viable. The team won’t be paying rent to play there like we had for so many years with teams in MLS when they played in NFL venues. The ability to convert the stadium to a more intimate venue like BC Place in Vancouver makes this move appealing in my book. Plus the promise from Blank that there will never be football lines on the soccer field is pretty bold.

Lastly, this move to me is about reaching a demographic in Atlanta that hasn’t really been tapped yet by the other sports franchises there in town. Yes, Atlanta is a fickle sports market that is more in the lines of a Dallas, where the people there really only want to support a winner. The big difference here is that Atlanta has a young demographic that wants to support soccer. The youth soccer scene in Atlanta is strong, I can attest to that personally as I’ve seen some of my family grow up in the area with the sport.

A lot still needs to happen to make this one a success but time is on Atlanta’s side here. They have plenty of time to get the right people in place to run this organization. Plus, they have years of experience and stories from other MLS clubs to know what works and what doesn’t work in this league.