Atlanta will join MLS in 2017, the league and club investor/operator Arthur Blank announced on Thursday. Blank also owns the NFL Atlanta Falcons and the two teams will share a stadium. For soccer, stadium capacity is capped at 29,322.
Atlanta follows Orlando and potentially Miami as MLS teams playing in the Southeast. MLS lacked Southeastern teams since contracting both Florida-based teams prior to the 2002 season.
“We are thrilled to welcome Atlanta to Major League Soccer as our 22nd team,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said. “Atlanta is one of the largest and most diverse markets in North America and has a rich tradition in sports and culture. And with Arthur Blank joining our ownership group, we are adding one of the most respected owners in professional sports. Arthur is deeply passionate about soccer and our quest to become one of the top professional soccer leagues in the world. We look forward to working with him and the entire Falcons organization on achieving this important goal.”
All of the club details will wait, with only their addition to the league announced on Thursday. The name of the club might depend on fan input.
“We are very excited to bring a Major League Soccer team to Atlanta,” Blank said. “We are going to build a first-class organization on and off the field that will be a source of pride for the entire community, and we believe our downtown stadium will become a destination for soccer fans throughout the Southeast for many years to come.”
Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed called the announcement “another strong example of how our city and region continue to draw world-class professional teams, cultural attractions, sporting events and new businesses that create jobs, attract more visitors to our city and make Atlanta the center of commerce in the Southeast region of the United States. Atlanta has long been an international city with a vibrant and diverse population. An MLS soccer team competing in our new state-of-the-art facility could not be a more fitting and welcome addition as we continue on our path towards being one of the leading cities in the world. I want to personally thank Arthur Blank and his team for their hard work in making this goal a reality and for believing in Atlanta.”