Major League Soccer awarded its 22nd franchise to the city of Atlanta, where the league’s latest expansion side will kick off its inaugural season in 2017.
On Wednesday, MLS commissioner Don Garber held a press conference in the city to announce the addition of the league’s newest club, which will be owned by Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank.
“We are thrilled to welcome Atlanta to Major League Soccer as our 22nd team,” Garber said in a statement. “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.”
The expansion side will share its home with the Falcons in a retractable-roof stadium that will be located in downtown Atlanta. It will feature artificial turf, and will seat 29,000 for soccer events. The naming of the club staff and nickname will be conducted at a later date.
“We are very excited to bring a Major League Soccer team to Atlanta,” Blank said in a statement. “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.”
The last top-flight side to call Atlanta its home was the Atlanta Chiefs of the North American Soccer League, which played from 1968-72, then again from 1979-81. The Atlanta Silverbacks of the current iteration of the NASL play at 5,000 seat Atlanta Silverbacks Park.