By Maria Saporta
In one of the most anticipated sports announcements in recent Atlanta history, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank is expected to announce on Wednesday that he has reached an agreement with Major League Soccer to become the newest owner of a franchise soccer team.
A media advisory was sent out Monday morning saying that there would be a major announcement on Wednesday with Blank, MLS Commissioner Don Garber along with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Frank Poe, the executive director of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority about the future of soccer in Atlanta.
The “media only” announcement is scheduled to take place Wednesday afternoon at 5 p.m. at Ventanas on Baker Street, not too far from where construction has started on the new Atlanta Falcons football stadium.
The stadium has been designed specifically to accommodate a professional soccer team as well. Blank and the entire Falcons organization has been quite public about their desire to have a MLS team be part of their offerings in the new stadium.
The Atlanta MLS team would be an expansion team and would be the 22nd franchise in the league.
As recently as April 2, Blank spoke about his desire to secure a soccer team for Atlanta during a two-hour session with students and faculty at Oglethorpe University.
“We are not too far away from a linkage with Major League Soccer,” Blank said at “When we hopefully announce a Major League Soccer franchise, we hope it will be much more successful than other soccer teams have been in Atlanta.”
Blank pointed to all the young people who have grown up playing soccer and developed a true affinity for the sport. Blank said the game has certainly evolved in the United States in the past 10 years, but added that the sport still has a long way to go.
“We looked at the sport seven years ago. It was an emerging league, only 20 years old. Half the teams were owned by two people,” Blank said. “The league has made tremendous progress since then. The opportunity for us in our new stadium is tremendous. It was uniquely designed to accommodate professional soccer . It will be great.”