Aug 20, 2014, 12:25 PM EDT
There’s still three years until they will kick a ball in Major League Soccer but the league’s newest expansion franchise to arrive is already making waves. Atlanta’s MLS franchise, operated by the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, has seen an incredible surge of interest in soccer in ATL.
[RELATED: Atlanta is MLS' newest franchise]
So far over 14,000 season ticket applications have been submitted by soccer fans in the city, as Atlanta’s new 29,000 capacity soccer stadium is already half full. Those applications are in place after $50 deposits were made by fans towards securing seats in the brand new stadium.
From the 2017 season the franchise will share their home with the Falcons, as a roof divider will cover the top tier of the 70,000 capacity venue to make it a more intimate setting for soccer matches. For further reference on similar soccer configurations in MLS, see BC Place, home of the Vancouver Whitecaps. Here is a video of how that will work in Atlanta.
From the franchises information website, owner Arthur Blank spoke at a breakfast on Wednesday and has urged more fans to get on board by the end of 2014.
Speaking at a breakfast presented by Atlanta Magazine Wednesday morning, MLS Atlanta Owner Arthur Blank challenged soccer fans to fill the remaining 11,000 seats for MLS Atlanta games in the new Atlanta stadium by the end of the year.
Thus far over 14,000 seats have been committed by fans who put down a $50 deposit to become members of the MLS Atlanta Founder’s Club, which affords fans recognition in the new stadium, priority seating choices and other benefits. Founder’s Club members are able to reserve up to 8 seats in the new Atlanta Stadium.
The MLS Atlanta franchise will begin play in 2017.
With a real supporters culture growing in Atlanta over two seasons before the team even arrives, news like this is a huge boost for MLS. We all know that interest in Orlando and Miami as expansion franchises has been through the roof in recent months, but news surrounding the league’s new venture in Atlanta has kind of dissolved into the background. With a NASL side already present in the city, it is intriguing to see if Atlanta can become a true hub for the sport in the U.S. It has long been listed as a potential hotbed for soccer and we are beginning to see why.
However, with 14,000 people handing over $50 for season tickets deposits two years before the team is around, how many of those will disappear between now and then? Anyway, that’s the cynic in me.
This large number of season ticket sales, without the franchise having a name, a manager of any players, proves soccer can thrive in the South. Comparing it to rumored season ticket sales from the last few years around MLS, ATL is faring well.
Here are some approximate numbers from the past few seasons to give you an idea how impressive this is.
Total season ticket holders, per club, in MLS
Seattle Sounders FC – 32,000 (2010)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC – 15,500-16,500 (2011)
Toronto FC – 16,000 (2011)
Portland Timbers FC – 14,750 (2012)
Philadelphia Union – 12,000-13,000 (2011)
Sporting Kansas City – 11,000 (2011)
Real Salt Lake – 7,000-8,000 (2011)
Montreal Impact – 5,000+ (2012)
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