MLS Next Week Expected To Announce Atlanta Franchise With Ties To Falcons
An MLS expansion franchise "is coming to Atlanta," as an announcement is "scheduled for April 16" in the city, according to a source cited by Doug Roberson of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. The team "would become the 22nd franchise in MLS and would open play" in '17. That would coincide with the opening of the Falcons' new $1B downtown stadium, and Falcons Owner Arthur Blank "has been pursuing a franchise for several years." Organizers "are hoping to have a fan festival that will be attended by soccer dignitaries and local government officials" for the April 16 announcement (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 4/7). PHILLY.com's Jonathan Tannenwald reported the expansion team "will be run in association" with the Falcons and be a "co-tenant with the Falcons in their new stadium." Atlanta will technically be MLS' 22nd franchise -- not its 23rd -- even though Miami was "already announced as the 22nd market that will have a MLS team." That is because David Beckham and Miami "won't officially get their team until a stadium deal is in place." Moreover, Atlanta's team "could kick off before Miami's," as the opening of the Falcons' stadium "gives the Atlanta MLS team a hard goal to aim for." Beckham recently said that '18 is the current goal for "opening a new venue in downtown Miami" (PHILLY.com, 4/6).
SOUTH BEACH PARTY: In N.Y., Richard Johnson noted Beckham "is trying to recruit" Heat F LeBron James as one of his investors for the Miami MLS franchise. A source said, "The two have had several secret meetings in the past few weeks" (N.Y. POST, 4/6). In Miami, Patricia Mazzei noted Beckham's reps "continue to try to win hearts and minds" for their proposed stadium at PortMiami by "reaching out to civic groups." Real estate firm HR&A Advisors Chair John Alschuler, who is repping Beckham, on Friday "stood alone before some 50 people at a luncheon organized by a Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce committee" (MIAMI HERALD, 4/5).