MLS Soccer Coming to Atlanta?!

Discussion in 'RayGator's Swamp Gas' started by atlantagator86, Apr 15, 2014.

  1. atlantagator86
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    atlantagator86 Well-Known Member

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    The announcement that Atlanta is getting an MLS franchise is expected tomorrow:

    http://www.11alive.com/story/sports/soccer/2014/04/14/mls-announcement-expected-this-week/7701579/

    I know it isn't Gator related and MLS soccer isn't a huge deal, but I mention this because several months ago, when people here were saying that Atlanta was stupid for replacing the Georgia Dome, I stated that the MLS giving Arthur Blank an expansion team was a major part of the equation in building the new stadium and a big part of why Blank is paying roughly 75% of the stadium construction cost.

    And I also mention this because I said then, and I'll say again, that Atlanta will very likely be hosting the 2018 college football championship game.
  2. orangeblueorangeblue
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    orangeblueorangeblue Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if that precludes it being a stupid move.
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  3. bgator85
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    bgator85 Premium Member

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    I am not a big soccer fan, but I have been impressed with how MLS has grown. I was surprised at how many clubs now have their own stadiums.
  4. j_major32
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    j_major32 Member

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    Well, at least Canada is guaranteed a MLS team in the future.
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  5. haddon
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    haddon Active Member

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    so in the next few years, expansions coming to orlando, miami, and atlanta? i'm wondering if that isn't an overly saturated market for MLS. i don't think there are enough soccer fans to support so many teams within such a small region. (not that people in atlanta would really support a florida team or vice versa, it just seems like MLS is in danger of spreading itself too thin and diluting interest)
  6. theghost
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    theghost Well-Known Member

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    I've been to DC United games at RFK Stadium...they usually get 15-20K fans. There's a rabid section that chants the whole time. It's a great opportunity to get drunk and watch the most boring game in the world!
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  7. gatorev12
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    gatorev12 Well-Known Member

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    I'm a big socccer fan and support MLS, but I'm skeptical about putting a team in Atlanta--and Miami for that matter too.

    Both cities are horrible sports towns that barely support established leagues like the NFL, NBA, and MLB---why would MLS be any different? I know both cities have had the one-off friendly from bigger clubs or international games over the last few years...but it's one thing to show up for a friendly, it's quite another to put a team and automatically assume everyone will come out for that too. I think the league is making a huge mistake going after both cities when there's other markets that would be better.
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  8. Gator Mike
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    Gator Mike Member

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    Atlanta and Miami clearly have large enough populations to support their own franchises. Let's not forget that the soccer demographic in the US is very different than the demographics for basketball, football, hockey, etc. It's decidedly younger and decidedly more ethnic.

    The only one that would concern me would be Orlando, but they're already drawing 12,000+ for minor league games, and they're backed by one of the richest men on the planet, so I wouldn't be too worried about them, either.
  9. GCMightygator
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    GCMightygator Active Member

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    Something that is bit different for the Orlando City franchise as compared to NFL, MLB and NBA franchises is that it has consolidated a large Orlando area youth recreation and youth competitive soccer programs into its "Club". The club cross markets its pro team (its a minor league team that get promoted to MLS next season) thought its youth programs. The theory being to develop home grown talent (long shot) and also younger fans that need parents to take them to games. Youth program is called Orlando City Youth and they share the same kits as the pro team.

    I am not sure how many of the other MLS franchises do something similar but I think many European clubs use this model.
  10. sportsguy5487
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    sportsguy5487 Member

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    When US played Mexico here in Atlanta this year it was rabid. The Latino population alone would help support a MLS team in my opinion. All of my Latino employees asked off to go see that game haha
  11. atlantagator86
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    atlantagator86 Well-Known Member

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    I can't speak for Miami, but the perception that Atlanta is a bad sports town is really not accurate. Last season, the Braves were 13th in average attendance and this year, they're up to 8th. The Falcons were 13th in the NFL last year as well. And there's probably not a bigger TV market in the country for college football than Atlanta (per capita), other than maybe Birmingham.

    Atlanta has always supported hockey pretty well, but the Thrashers was a team that was doomed early on. The real story behind the Thrashers was that the NHL wanted to give Ted Turner a team to get a "national" TV contract on TBS. The problem was that Turner sold everything, including the Thrashers (and Hawks), to Time Warner before they even played a game. Time Warner had no interest in running the Hawks or Thrashers, so they ran them as a write of for several years before finally selling them to a partnership group. Well that partnership group ended up immediately have internal legal issues that took several years to resolve in court. By the time they finally got things resolved, it was really too late. The team had never connected with the city. The same issues have hurt the Hawks for years. It should also be noted that as far as hockey, the Atlanta Flames always had good fan support. They didn't leave due to lack of support. They left because they were purchased by a person who was intent of putting a team in Calgary. And the IHL Atlanta Knights were VERY well supported.

    And it should be noted that ownership was always the problem with the Falcons, up until the Smith family sold them to Arthur Blank. Since Arthur Blank has owned the team, there have been dramatic improvements in fan support.

    That doesn't ensure that MLS will do well in Atlanta. The truth is that soccer, particularly MLS, has never generated much interest from Atlantans, that I'm aware of. In fact, I think there's much more interest, at least from people I know, in English Premier soccer than the MLS. But they will have a GREAT team owner in Blank and a good facility. Youth soccer is big here, but not like other markets and most kids gravitate to other sports by the time they're 9 or 10 here. But that might change once there's an MLS team here. The Thrashers generated a LOT of interest in youth hockey for the first few years they were here. I think Atlanta will do just fine as an MLS city.
  12. gatorev12
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    gatorev12 Well-Known Member

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    The perception is the reality largely because there is truth to it. All of Atlanta's professional teams have struggled with attendance at various points in their histories--some even when they were good teams.

    Blank is a good owner and seems to be very passionate about having a team in the city. A good owner goes a long way toward having a successful team in any sport, so there is that; but sorry if I'll remain skeptical until we see how it translates on gamedays. At least 1/4 of the MLS season is set during college football Saturdays (September-October)--and if you're a playoff team, then it goes into November too. Interest always wanes in MLS once football starts in all but a few cities...but an Atlanta team will be even more affected than most since it's smack in the middle of SEC country.

    Plus, a huge reason for the justification has been "well, there's a lot of Hispanics/Mexicans in the area, so they'll *automatically* love the team!!" It's retarded thinking that's been proven wrong time and time and time again across the league. A city's Hispanic population has almost nothing to do with how successful a team will be. With tv and internet, most Hispanics follow the teams they supported in their old countries and have shown little interest in MLS to-date unless there's a major player from their country on the team (like Blanco in Chicago).
  13. viningsgator
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    viningsgator Premium Member

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    I will cede that the Hawks have terrible fan support but the Falcons and Braves have solid fan bases.

    As you mentioned Atlanta has hosted several friendly matches pulling in some decent crowds. From what I've heard ticket prices are supposed to be very affordable. If they market the Hispanic community I could see 25,000 per game.

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  14. atlantagator86
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    atlantagator86 Well-Known Member

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    The same can be said for most sports team. There are very few really good sports cities that follow all the sports.

    There may be some truth to that. But again, this can be said for most cities. It may not be college football in those other cities, but the NFL, NBA and NHL all start during the same time and will all detract from MLS teams.

    Don't know where you're hearing that from but I've never heard that as a justification for a team in Atlanta. Nor is there any real truth to that. There would be much more truth to that claim in Orlando and Miami, where there are more affluent Hispanics, than Atlanta.

    Atlanta had a large Hispanic influx in the 90s, mostly for work in poultry processing plants and home building, but many went back when the recession hit, plus those Hispanics who came to Atlanta for that kind of work don't have the money to buy sporting event tickets. That's not to say that there aren't affluent Hispanic families in metro Atlanta, but it's not a large percentage of the area's population.

    But again, I never heard Atlanta try and justify an MLS team based on it's Hispanic population.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2014
  15. atlantagator86
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    atlantagator86 Well-Known Member

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    The Hawks actually used to have decent support when Ted Turner owned them. Not great but decent. And I noted above that like the Thrashers, the Hawks support issues have largely been due to Time Warner ownership and the last ownership group's legal issues. I don't think they'll ever have great support because Atlanta has never really been a big basketball city.

    As I mentioned above, I don't think Atlanta's Hispanic community is going to be a huge source of fans.

    But one thing I did just read is about the new stadium. Apparently the lower level is partially retractable and they'll cover the entire upper level so stadium capacity will be under 30,000.
  16. viningsgator
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    viningsgator Premium Member

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    Actually Atlanta is a huge basketball town. They just don't support the Hawks. Atlanta is always in the top 5 TV viewers for the NBA finals.

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  17. gatordelaltomaiz
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    gatordelaltomaiz Member

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    A lot of the MLS franchises have youth soccer affiliate clubs.
  18. gatorev12
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    gatorev12 Well-Known Member

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    ...which will be directly competing with the new MLS team for fans/attention for substantial parts of both seasons.

    Friendlies are VASTLY different from supporting a team for a full season. The NFL has done alright in friendly games in London, even Mexico City---think either city could support a pro team? Or taking a MLB team and putting it in Australia?

    And, again, saying "a city has lots of Hispanics--they'll automatically like the new team" is lazy thinking and has been proven wrong in many instances. People said the same thing with the Chivas USA experiment in LA--it's been a disaster and few (if any) Chivas fans across the country supported the offshoot. People said similar things about having teams in Houston, San Jose, and about every other market out there---and yet, MLS' primary fanbase is not Hispanic-Americans, it's younger sports fans in the millenial generation. Some of them are Hispanic, but usually they're second or third generation by now and strongly identify themselves as American.
  19. gatorev12
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    gatorev12 Well-Known Member

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    Fair enough--I can't think of many cities that support their teams through thick and thin in ALL sports. Some, but not many.


    My concern is that the league expands too far, too fast and goes through a period of bad finances, declining fan interest, and contraction---all because they got greedy and tried to expand to markets that were never viable. The NHL did this in the 90s and went through serious financial problems and about a decade of mediocrity before turning things around the last 3-4 years. The NHL's biggest mistake was moving teams away from the NE and Canada and to southern cities where the interest wasn't there. Some markets have succeeded, but most did not.

    Frankly, I'm surprised you haven't heard that. Both Blank and the MLS commissioner have pointed to the city's Hispanic market in dozens of interviews before and after the announcement were made:

    "This market is much different than the average American or Canadian city," Garber said after the press conference. It's a very large Hispanic market, larger than most people understand. It's the perfect market."

    http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/artic...-new-owner-arthur-blank-explain-why-pro-socce
  20. WeWinWeEat
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    The talent level on the field for the MLS pales in comparison to the EPL or La Liga from what I have seen. The TV production value is atrocious too. Personally, I'd would rather watch the best players in the world. The US would be wise to focus on getting more of our players to compete in the top leagues and develop their talent instead of encouraging them to play in what could be compared to the NBA's D League.

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