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Atlanta moves one step closer to MLS expansion with new Falcons stadium

Oct 25, 2013, 5:25 PM EDT

Arthur Blank AP

There’s been plenty of noise surrounding Atlanta as a very possible position for MLS expansion in the near future.

That noise just got even more ammo as Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank revealed plans for a $1 billion stadium to replace the Georgia Dome, complete with soccer configurations.

The stadium is expected to be ready by 2017. The plot of land has already been fully purchased.

The pictures released by the team – computer generated images of what they are planning for – includes a 360-degree video board “halo” embedded in the roof of the dome, which is retractable in an oval shape.

An MLS expansion team is nothing new, with Sports Illustrated hammering home the point on numerous occasions that Atlanta is heavily in the mix, but the new developments are certainly a more concrete piece of evidence.

In addition, it’s been widely reported that Blank has been in negotiations with MLS commish Don Garber about expanding in Atlanta.

Finally, on the official website for the new stadium, it lists the World Cup as a potential marquee event that the stadium would be capable of hosting. Clearly that’s overshooting their capabilities a bit, but the point remains that soccer is clearly on the minds of those putting the stadium together.

  1. danielofthedale - Oct 25, 2013 at 7:02 PM

    This makes me even more excited about the chances Atlanta has of getting an expansion team! I love the faux roof that will cover up the upper levels and make the it a more intiment environment. I also like that the roof only opens over the field so the stands are covered and keep that sound in.

    And this new stadium will be a World Cup host venue if the US wins a World Cup bid. If you can’t get a flight a to Atlanta it’s because you can’t get to an airport. The city has copious amounts of IT and broadcast infrastructure which why the US was going to put the IBC in Atlanta if it won the 2022 bid.

  2. hildezero - Oct 25, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    Nice stadium, but this doesn’t convince me. This shows only the interest of the owners, but not the fans. I think MLS loves their idea, but Don Garber and company care a lot about fan support not just about the money. If that’s the case, then why not look at Phoenix? There are a lot of soccer fans in Phoenix and the Phoenix FC owners want to move the franchise up to MLS. They can play in the U Of P Stadium while they built one of their own. I mean, C’mon… is Garber really gonna think that it will be a good image for MLS when a team in Atlanta would be playing in a +50,000 stadium, when the only bottom bowl are opened and the rest of the stadium are just empty seats? I bet that there’s gonna be empty seats in the bottom bowl also through mid-season! Orlando City are close of becoming the next MLS franchise, yet there are people already saying it would be a bad idea, because they’re isn’t any major fan support to the sport in south. Houston, Dallas, and United fans have said it many times that it won’t work in the south like Florida. Even soccer fans in Florida have admit that MLS won’t make much of an impact there. So if it won’t work in Florida, then what does that say about Georgia?

    • danielofthedale - Oct 25, 2013 at 8:59 PM

      Dude this model is the EXACT same as BC Place in Vancouver. No one says anything about how BC has bad atmosphere. The Silverbacks draw near sell outs each game I have been to. Plus if you don’t live in a city I don’t see how you can speak to the number of fans in city.

    • hippiedippyweatherman - Oct 26, 2013 at 5:39 PM

      An international friendly between Chelsea and AC Milan drew 67,000 people at Sun Life Stadium. Orlando City sells out virtually every game and drew about 25,000 to the USL championship game, which OC SC won. Atlanta Silverbacks games have been standing room only for the past couple of seasons. Seems like plenty of support to me. And there is a significant Latin community in Florida that provides a stronger support base. The first two Florida teams did not have good ownership or a suitable stadium. They don’t yet have that in Miami but will in Orlando and Atlanta. Like CenturyLink Field in Seattle, the Atlanta stadium is being designed with soccer in mind (both MLS and World Cup). The same is reportedly being done in Minnesota. It will not feel like the sprawling void of Gillette Stadium. Fans in the southeast have a bad reputation of preferring to spend time on the beach than in the seats. But most of that can be attributed to bad ownership (Miami Marlins, Atlanta Thrashers) or a bad stadium (Tampa Bay Rays) in places with many alternative forms of entertainment. In order to get butts in the seats, you need a good team in a good venue. I think Orlando and Atlanta are plenty capable of providing both.

  3. drewvt6 - Oct 26, 2013 at 12:58 AM

    Smells like Foxboro to me. Cant wait to see Falcons endzones painted for an MLS game in the ATL!!! $100 says the field is turf.

  4. hildezero - Oct 26, 2013 at 1:02 AM

    Dufuq you talking? First of all, don’t try to prove me wrong, because I know what I’m talking about. Second, I have realized that Vancouver does have a weak atmosphere. Finally, I don’t know what you meant on your “city” comment. I live in a city. PHX. I’m aware of Silverbacks attendance. It’s good on minor league levels, but do you actually think they can double that in that new stadium every matchday? But let me get back on your BC Place comment. That new Falcons stadium would look like Wembley Stadium compared to BC Place. My guess is that the Falcons owner thinks he can draw crowds like Seattle… XD Yeah, right. It’s not easy filling out all those levels and bowls in a football stadium during soccer games. Just ask the New England Patriots owner. If Atlanta would want a franchise, then might as well build a 20,000 to 25,000 soccer specific stadium instead.

    • dhagentj - Oct 26, 2013 at 2:22 AM

      Vancouver? Weak atmosphere?
      16 teams in MLS WISH they had Vancouver’s atmosphere.

    • hippiedippyweatherman - Oct 26, 2013 at 5:53 PM

      Seattle was an incredible atmosphere even before they started drawing 60,000 per game and had the upper deck tarped. That’s because the stadium was designed to make it feel smaller than it really is. It’s capacity was easily reduced without inhibiting the atmosphere. The acoustics are fantastic and people quickly forgot the upper deck was even there. The same cannot be said for Gillette Stadium, which is a yawning cavern where the cheers of 20-25,000 people are rapidly lost into space. The Atlanta stadium is being designed with the same philosophy as the one in Seattle, an intimate atmosphere that traps sound and easily compartmentalizes.

    • danielofthedale - Oct 27, 2013 at 10:24 PM

      First of all I never said where you do or do not live. I said if you for live in a city you can not his that city is. You live Phoenix so you really have no idea what the fan support in Atlanta is like, just like I have no idea what it’s like in Phoenix other that its hot a hell.

      Second Wembley is 90,000ish in size. The new Atlanta stadium will be about 2/3 of that or around 65,000. So it will be much closer to BC Palce than Wembly so once agin you speak from a position of ignorance.

      No one thinks the team in Atlanta will draw Seattle numbers, hence the faux roof to limit capacity. I think you would look at 15,000-17,000/game for the first couple of seasons. If the manaent of the MLS team is integrated with the Falcons like the Sounders and Seahawks have done then they could leverage that existing ticket base and pump it to 18,000 or 19,000. Also I am guessing MLS has done some market research that shows there is more than enough demand for MLS as well as Blank. Blank does not want to waste money and MLS does not want to waste a franchise so due diligence will have done.

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