MatchDay Memory–History of ATL Soccer (Part IV)

Recently my family moved to Atlanta to start the next chapter in our lives.  As part of settling in I started researching the history of soccer in Atlanta, expecting to focus on the Silverbacks and the new MLS team which starts play in 2017.  To my surprise I learned that soccer has been in city since the 1960’s and is full of interesting stories and characters.  So here we go . . .

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mls atl announcement

On April 16, 2014, MLS announced that Atlanta was awarded an expansion franchise.  Arthur Blank is the owner of the team, and he is building a new stadium that will house both the new soccer team and his other sporting property, the Atlanta Falcons, in downtown Atlanta.  The team has yet to be named and several names are being discussed with variations of Phoenix, birds, railroad concepts and Civil War themes coming to the surface.

mls atl banner

Darren Eales was hired as President in September 2014.  Based on the club’s press release, Eales has been involved in the game his entire life, first as a player in England and the United States and then as an executive at West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur.  As I was finishing up this series, it was announced that Carlos Bocanegra was hired as the Technical Director. His success as a player and wide range of contacts across several countries should be an assed to the organization. According to the club website, the team will scout the world for players during 2015 and then start building the roster in 2016.  The new Atlanta team will draft in the 2017 MLS Super Draft and begin play in 2017.

What has really gotten me excited is the new stadium being built.  Arthur Blank and the Falcons are paying for most of the $1.2 billion stadium, although a portion of funds will come from an Atlanta hotel/motel tax.

atlanta-falcons-new-stadium-designs1

One of the leaders from the 360 Architecture group explained the philosophy of their proposal focusing on the retractable roof, crowd noise, the score board and embracing nature.  For the roof, the group started with the pantheon idea, the notion of a focused beam of light on the playing surface.  From there they developed a roof that opens up from the center point, allowing more and more light in.  The demonstration is quite remarkable.  Another concern for the stadium was the noise generated by fans.  Their proposal is to have a fixed part of the stadium similar to the facility in Seattle that deflects noise back on to the field.

Moving on to the scoreboard, the group wanted an experience that fans could not get at home.  Their solution is a 360 degree scoreboard that occupies the rim of the fixed structure.  Multiple cameras will be used to create a vantage point unmatched in any personal set up, while updating fans on information, scores and promotions.  Their proposal looks amazing.  Finally, there was the environmental component.  The group wanted an outdoor stadium feel with a retractable roof and came up with creative ways to generate natural ventilation and light so that fans felt they were outside, even though they were in the middle of a large structure.

New_Atlanta_Stadium_MLS_configuration

For soccer, several wrinkles have been revealed including retracting lower bowl seats to widen the field, and mechanized curtains that limits the capacity to about 29,000 and makes the stadium feel more intimate.

A website has been created that shows the construction process from breaking ground to completion plus renderings of each side of the stadium.  Imagine Lucas Oil Stadium in Indy combined with the original wow factor of the retractable roof at Sky Dome in Toronto with a sprinkling of futuristic building construction.  Pretty cool.

That’s where things stand now.  Hopefully I got all this right.  Information was very hard to track down so if you have any corrections or additional information, please tweet or email me.

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These posts are based on internet research so may be incorrect or incomplete. Please reach out to me at austinlong1974@gmail.com with any comments or corrections.

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