With Orlando City SC receiving the needed funding, and it looking like they will be announced as the MLS‘s 21st franchise soon, MLS expansion talk has stayed in the South East and has shifted toward cities like Atlanta and Miami. On Tuesday, the Atlanta Falcons released more pictures of their proposed new stadium and include a seating chart for MLS games.
Among the pictures released, one states that it could fit a little more than 31,000 people for MLS games. Additionally, the stadium is expected to be finished by 2017. The field will also be turf.
In many soccer circles, turf surfaces are a controversial subject. Some would argue that it is an unfavorable surface to play on that adds a higher injury risk. Moreover, it would be interesting to see what MLS’ opinion of a turf surface in a new stadium would be.
I do not think MLS would be okay with a new expansion team permanently sharing a stadium with an NFL team. Currently, some teams do, but there have been some issues like NFL lines during MLS matches. The only shared stadium I see working out well is in Seattle.
On another note, I do not see a would-be Atlanta MLS team drawing 31,000 people weekly. The largest soccer-specific MLS stadium is the New York Red Bulls at 25,000 seats, and they can barely fit their toilet-bowl-looking stadium.
While it seems like the MLS and Falcons’ ownership would have some issues to work through, MLS expansion fever is high in Atlanta. With it seeming like both Orlando City and New York City FC are joining the league in 2015, if Atlanta is awarded an expansion franchise, I do not see them joining the league pre-2016.
For now, new stadium plans and MLS seating plans leave us wondering. Will the MLS come to Atlanta, and could an MLS Atlanta team actually help the league grow and be successful?
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