A Major League Soccer expansion franchise is going to be awarded to Atlanta according to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Per the AJC story, an announcement is expected to happen on April 16 in the downtown Atlanta area, sometime in the afternoon hours.
That narrows it down, I guess.
Atlanta was one of several cities attempting to bring an MLS expansion team to town, along with Miami and Orlando. Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank has pushed the movement for Atlanta, and is willing to invest heavily in the team.
A representative of MLS released the following statement:
“We are continuing discussions with Arthur Blank to bring a Major League Soccer expansion team to Atlanta; however, we have not finalized an agreement at this time.”
Bringing in smaller revenue franchises to Atlanta hasn’t been a huge success in the past, with the city losing two NHL franchises — the Flames who moved to Calgary and the Thrashers who left for Winnipeg — as well as the Atlanta Chiefs soccer club, who played in the NASL and Indoor Soccer leagues before folding in 1981.
Atlanta was also home to the Atlanta Beat, the professional women’s soccer team who played in the Women’s United Soccer Association and the Women’s Professional Soccer league – both leagues having folded. The Beat are not part of the new National Women’s Soccer League.
The Atlanta Silverbacks are men’s and women’s teams in the current NASL, a division II league, and are currently still in operation.
The Atlanta MLS team would become the 22nd franchise in the league, and would begin play in 2017.
If the city can provide a small and accessible venue for the team, and if Mr. Blank can wave his magic wand over the team as he’s done with his other ventures, perhaps professional soccer would actually be successful in Atlanta this time.