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SBD/April 17, 2014/Franchises
Atlanta, Arthur Blank Officially Awarded MLS Expansion Team, Will Get Fan Input On Name
Published April 17, 2014
PUTTING THE FANS FIRST: Blank said that he will "get input from the fans before deciding" on the team's name. He added, "We will spend a lot of time listening to our fans and trying to understand why some names are more important than others, why certain designs are more important than others, why certain logos are more important than others." The AP's Paul Newberry noted one name "that won't be considered: Atlanta Chiefs, the name of two previous teams" that played in the old NASL. While the Chiefs "won the first NASL championship in 1968, both versions struggled financially and eventually folded." Meanwhile, Blank said that the new facility is "designed to seat about 71,000 for NFL games," but can be "reduced to about 29,000 for soccer." Blank said that he will "try to encourage some crossover between Falcons' season-ticket holders and those interested in attending MLS games." But he acknowledged that the teams "are likely to have very different fan bases, making it clear the new soccer team will not merely be a side business for the Falcons." Blank's first priority is "to hire a team president for the MLS venture" (AP, 4/16).
MARCHING ORDERS? ESPN's Keith Olbermann reported shortly after Atlanta was officially granted its expansion team, Massive City FFC, a group of Crew fans, "decided to start something" with the club. They tweeted out an image of Gen. William Sherman and a message that read, "Dear Atlanta, welcome to Major League Soccer. Our warmest regards from your old friends in Ohio." Sherman, who burned much of Atlanta during the Civil War, was an Ohio native. Olbermann said, "If you're an Atlanta fan, you can go one of two ways in response. Sherman was born in Ohio but at the time of the Civil War, he was living and working in Louisiana at a military school which would later become LSU and he really didn't live in Ohio after he left for West Point at the age of 16. In fact, when he died he was living here in New York. He's buried in St. Louis. Not really Ohio, or you can go the other way. Just respond to the Columbus Crew fans at Massive City FCC by saying something like, 'Wait, the Columbus team in MLS is in Ohio? It's not in the real Columbus, the one here in Georgia?'" Olbermann said Sherman "would tell you to always check your history before you go on the attack, don't leave your flank open" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 4/16).