Earlier this afternoon Major League Soccer (MLS), Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank and a host of other local dignitaries, including Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, were on hand at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to announce the city will be hosting the league’s all-star game next summer.
“For us, it’s just a huge honor to be in this position,” said Blank, who also took time to thank Reed for supporting the Atlanta United franchise and Blank as a business owner. “I don’t think we’ll have to worry about selling out the stadium for the all-star game since we sold it out last night.”
The United sold out the 70,000-plus seat arena for the season finale against Toronto FC on Sunday night. If there was a time, arena and soccer-mad city prepared to host a team of MLS’ best and one of Europe’s best clubs it’s now in Atlanta.
The MLS All-Star game model is such that the league’s all-stars host a power club from leagues around Europe. The best in the game coming to play in what is now one of the best environments in the league.
“This is a big deal,” said Reed when it was his turn at the dais. “We have yet another amazing event coming to the city of Atlanta.”
Also in attendance for what was a 50-minute presentation and appreciation fest were:
MLS Commissioner Don Garber; William White, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Target; and Dan Corso, President of Atlanta Sports Council.
“I can say without any hesitation that the launch of [this team] is one of the most, if not the most impressive team launch in the history of professional sports,” said Garber, who has spent the last 18 years at the helm of Major League Soccer. “(Mercedes-Benz Stadium) will be a great gathering place for the entire North American soccer community.”
Atlanta United, which will host its playoff opener on Thursday night against the Columbus Crew, has already set a number of league attendance records, in particular for an expansion franchise. The game, which will take place in August, will be televised on ESPN, Univision, and TSN in Canada.
A large swath of the world’s soccer supporters will come to Atlanta -via television or in-person- and the city will be ready.
“To set all of these records in its first year is a great tribute to this great city and to our fans,” Blank said. “Our Atlanta United franchise has done an incredible job at supporting our fan base.”
Corso added: “This is more than a soccer match, this is a celebration of the sport.”