When it comes to sports in Georgia, frenzy is usually associated with college football or NASCAR … maybe the Falcons, the Hawks or the Braves.
Well all that is beginning to change.
Soccer is already the most popular game in the world, and now it is solidly taking hold in Atlanta. We just have a team name and a logo, yet we don’t even have any players.
But the thousands of Atlanta fans who recently showed up at SOHO Lounge in west Midtown to see Blank and Don Garber — commissioner of Major League Soccer — were cheering so loudly, you would have thought we had just won a championship.
Garber was so pumped! He talked about how the new America is discovering soccer, adding, “This new America is right here in Atlanta.”
Some may think the name, Atlanta United, is boring. But Blank said that focus group after focus group suggested the theme of Atlanta was all about unity and coming together.
He looked around at the generational, ethnic and racial diversity of the people who gathered for the announcement and said, “This is Atlanta.”
He knew that was why the new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta United belonged in the heart of the city.
“Urban downtown stadiums are so exciting because they are attracting the people who are here tonight,” Blank said.
When the Georgia Dome hosted the soccer match between Mexico and Nigeria in March 2014, we witnessed the multicultural energy of that new America, of that new Atlanta.
Centennial Olympic Park and all of downtown had been transformed into our own United Nations. Yes, this is the future.
As one leader told me at the time … the Atlanta Braves are going to realize that their decision to move to Cobb County was so last century.
Thank you, Arthur Blank, for bringing professional soccer to the heart of the city and for uniting Atlanta in the 21st century.