Major League Soccer is coming to Atlanta.
Arthur Blank and Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber along with Mayor Kasim Reed made the announcement Wednesday on the future of soccer in Atlanta.
The leagues 22nd team, which will begin play in the 2017 season, will be owned by Arthur Blank, the co-founder of The Home Depot and the owner of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons. A state-of-the-art retractable roof stadium in downtown Atlanta will house both the Falcons and the new MLS franchise, and is expected to host more than 29,000 fans for soccer matches upon its completion.
"We are thrilled to welcome Atlanta to Major League Soccer as our 22nd team," Garber said in a statement. "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."
Blank has long coveted a top-level soccer team for the city, and negotiations with the MLS intensified after he reached a deal on building a new $1 billion retractable roof stadium next to the Georgia Dome. Site preparation has already started, and the facility is expected to open in 2017.
"Soccer is the world's most popular sport and will be an exciting addition to the city's robust sports portfolio," said William Pate, president & CEO, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. "The Falcons and the new MLS team will ensure year-round activity at the new stadium and will draw additional domestic and international visitors to our city."
The team will be named at a later date.
CBS46.com will have more on this developing story.
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