All indications are that Atlanta will be officially named as Major League Soccer’s newest franchise on Wednesday, and that Hotlanta, not Miami, will be the 22nd team in MLS.
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and MLS have scheduled a “major announcement” for Wednesday at 5pm in downtown Atlanta.
Unlike Miami, Atlanta has a stadium deal set with the help of the Falcons. Much like the partnership that existed in Seattle between the Sounders and Seahawks, the Falcons will get their new stadium, and Atlanta will get their MLS team.
With that being said, Miami is still a player when it comes to expansion franchises, but it will only be officially awarded the franchise when it has a stadium deal in place
One plus of having a MLS team in Atlanta is TV rights.
With Atlanta being the home to TNT (Turner Broadcasting Network), MLS could capture the attention of the Turner executives with the team being in their “back yard.” It could motivate them into a potential MLS rights bid in the future, and Turner Broadcasting would be a change from NBCSN or FOX Sports 1.
Plus, MLS’s entry into Atlanta should give the league a big boost in TV ratings by tapping into the Atlanta TV market.
Although one of the concerns that has been raised is the fact that the MLS Atlanta franchise will be playing at an American football stadium, it must be noted that it works in Seattle. But as we know, not every city is as passionate about soccer as Seattle is.
On the positive side, Atlanta has a long history with soccer and has a culture that supports the game. Just last month, 68,212 fans packed the Georgia Dome to watch a 0-0 tie between Nigeria and Mexico.
The Atlanta Silverbacks, of the North America Soccer League, averaged 4,364 as the team won the Spring Championship season, and had the right to host the 2013 Soccer Bowl. In the Soccer Bowl, the Silverbacks faced the New York Cosmos where a record attendance of 7,211 was on hand as Marcos Senna and the New York Cosmos defeated the Silverbacks 1-0.
MLS is doing the right thing in expanding to the southeast of the United States. The region loves soccer, has the demographics for a successful soccer franchise, and it is hungry to see MLS return.
With Atlanta in the fold, only two spots remain in the expansion plans Don Garber said he wants by 2020. The next two possible cities are Miami and either San Antonio or Minnesota.
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