You’d be forgiven for thinking the announcement of the Atlanta Major League Soccer team came out of nowhere. After all, what’s soccer in the south but an afterthought, something for the locals to get irritated about every four years when the World Cup comes around?
Every soccer pundit and writer in the country talked for months ahead of the announcement how bad of an idea it was for MLS to come to the city. Besides the usual talk of “nobody will support it” and “Atlanta is a terrible sports town,” there was the question of history. How does anyone know if soccer will make it, much less thrive?
Today, at an event held on the corner of Baker and Marietta Street, the dreams of thousands of soccer fans in Atlanta came true: Atlanta is officially the next Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise.
Arthur Blank, co-founder of the Home Depot franchise and owner of the Atlanta Falcons, joined MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed, and US soccer legend Alexi Lalas in an afternoon event to announce the new team. While the official announcement happened upstairs at the Ventanas event space, a large crowd had also gathered in an empty lot across the street to cheer on the news. The team will play its first game in 2017.