The official city motto in Atlanta is “resurgens” – Latin for “rise again.” On Wednesday, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber put that motto into motion when he announced, alongside Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, that the 22nd MLS franchise would be in Atlanta.
The city that housed the inaugural champions in the North American Soccer League in 1968 with the Atlanta Chiefs would indeed rise again in 2017 when the Atlanta club joins MLS.
“We are thrilled to welcome Atlanta to Major League Soccer as our 22nd team,” Garber said. “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.”
Atlanta will be the 12th expansion club to join MLS since 2005, joining the most recent additions in Orlando City and NYCFC, who both will enter the league in 2015. There are plans to expand by two more teams by 2020, including a potential club in Miami owned by David Beckham.
Like Seattle did with Sounders FC, the fans in Atlanta will have the opportunity to choose the team’s name in the near future. Also like Seattle, Atlanta will share a downtown stadium with an NFL team, with a reduced seating capacity of 29,322 and is expected to host the first sporting event at the new state-of-the-art retractable roof stadium.
“We are very excited to bring a Major League Soccer team to Atlanta,” said Blank in a statement from the MLS offices. “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.”
In addition to the Chiefs, Atlanta has also played host for the Magic, Ruckus and Silverbacks in the more recent lower division professional leagues.