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MLS expanding to Atlanta

MLS expanding to Atlanta

Posted by Liliana Castaño on April 17, 2014

MLS is coming to Atlanta. The news was confirmed at a launch event on Wednesday hosted by Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who will operate the new team, and MLS commissioner Don Garber.

In a statement, Garber described Atlanta as "one of the largest and most diverse markets in North America (with) a rich tradition in sports and culture."

The as yet unnamed team (though “Atlanta Phoenix” has been trending on Twitter, as a reference to the city’s flag), will play at the new Atlanta Falcons Stadium, which will employ state-of-the-art technology to adjust capacity for different events — easing the fears that a team playing in an NFL arena is a retrograde move in the era of soccer-specific stadiums.

It is expected that Atlanta will begin play in the 2017 season (when the stadium is scheduled for completion), following Orlando City and New York City FC (2015), David Beckham’s Miami team (2016), and presumably, a reconfigured Chivas USA, as new faces in the league.

The Atlanta move had been expected — perhaps less for any obvious sporting logic, than from recent public statements from Blank and Garber talking up the prospect of an MLS foothold in the city, following a flirtation that has lasted since Blank first expressed an interest in a franchise in 2008. Just last week, Blank claimed a deal was close and Garber had been politic in his talking up the innovative quality of the proposed stadium technology as being well-suited for soccer.

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