Friday, June 20, 2008

MLS Expansion - NFL's Atlanta Falcons owner still interested in MLS side

Although Atlanta is seldom mentioned as one of the front-runners for a MLS side, Arthur Blank, the owner of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, is still very interested in bringing a team to the city. It would also seem that the league is just as interested, calling Atlanta 'a "tremendous" potential market that would expand the league's footprint into the Southeast.'

But just like so many other expansion cities, before Blank can see another professional team into Atlanta, he needs to come up with a stadium plan. His group has looked at 'about six' metro-Atlanta counties as possible home sites, however they have not narrowed it down. Another possible way of reading this is that no city has stepped up to offer the group a good public-private funding plan for a stadium.

As far as what the group would like to see in a complex, they would like "an 80-acre to 100-acre site could contain an MLS stadium, parking lots and soccer fields for local leagues and regional tournaments." This description points to a suburban stadium instead of something closer to downtown. They also imagine that the earliest such a complex could open in 2012.

So what does MLS think of Atlanta? They like it:
"We believe Atlanta can be a tremendous market for a Major League Soccer team," said Dan Courtemanche, the league's senior vice president of marketing and communications. "First and foremost, it's a very diverse market ... and clearly a strong market for soccer participation. ... And Arthur Blank's group is a tremendous group, no question there. We think they would be a perfect group to expand the MLS presence south of Washington, D.C."
Having a team in the Deep South is something that needs to happen and Atlanta is the obvious choice. However, any team playing there will need to do something about the heat, both during the games and during practice (look how hard Dallas gets hit every August for more on this).

One other interesting point, when talking about other possible expansion cities, Courtemanche names the regular crew however he places a little disclaimer in front of Miami, saying that the city is interested "to a lesser degree" then others. I guess they still cannot find a good ownership group for the area.

So where to place Atlanta is the list of possible expansion city? I would say that at this point, they are below the likes of St. Louis, Vancouver, Portland and New York, on par with Montreal and above Las Vegas, Ottawa, San Diego and Miami.

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Chris Martin said...

Mr. Blach, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE bring MLS to the deep south!!!! I live in Birmingham and get to see maybe one "professional quality" game every 2-3 years. Right now the closest teams are Dallas, Columbus, and D.C.

3:40 PM  
Blogger ERic said...

Ottawa just needs to stop being mentioned. Seriously.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dream is to have an MLS team in Atlanta. Personally I like the team name of Atlanta Knights.

12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Atlanta is an obvious front runner for the next MLS expansion team.
It seems to be a good fit and should be seriously considered with only the likes of St. Louis. Let Blank get his team organized and place a stadium in a suburb of ATL asap.

1:37 PM  
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4:32 AM  
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9:33 PM  

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