Live Blog: Celebration of Soccer
Atlanta Falcons Owner and Chairman Arthur Blank and MLS Commissioner Don Garber will be making a big announcement at 5 p.m. Wednesday in downtown Atlanta. Keep refreshing this page for up-to-the-minute sights, scenes and information from the Celebration of Soccer.
5:51 p.m. — That concludes today’s announcement. Keep following along with MLSAtlanta2017.com for the latest information on the new MLS Atlanta franchise.
5:50 p.m. — Kasim Reed: “People respond to winning, and that’s what’s going to happen here.”
5:45 p.m. — Blank says the New Atlanta Stadium will hold 71,000-plus for Falcons games and will be reduced to 29,000 seats for soccer. He also said there will never be American football lines on the grass for a soccer game, which was met with cheers.
5:43 p.m. — Blank says the only requirement for the team name will be that it reflect the interest of the fans.
5:41 p.m. — A video of MLS stars, past and present, congratulating Atlanta and Arthur Blank is shown to the crowd. At the conclusion, media members have a few moments to ask questions.
5:39 p.m. — “I don’t think there is any question” that the Atlanta area is ready for the MLS, says Reed.
5:36 p.m. — Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed says the hard work and commitment of Blank to improve the city and to bring the best to its citizens is coming to fruition.
5:30 p.m. — Fans will have an opportunity to name the team in the future and the color scheme is set to be red, gold and black.
5:29 p.m. — “We will create opportunities to make a different in a variety of ways,” said Blank of how the MLS franchise will impact the surrounding community.
5:27 p.m. — Why now? The New Atlanta Stadium is being designed to approach both American football and soccer with some pretty spectacular technological advancements that will make the soccer experience a much more intimate one for fans.
5:26 p.m. — “This team will be owned by the fans,” Blank said and promises to commit the resources to have the best players and best personnel to bring a championship to Atlanta. “Winning and losing in sports does matter, and we want to win.”
5:24 p.m. — Blank looks to Terminus Legion and gives them a nod for their passion and support of the MLS in Atlanta. Blank also asks them to please not stop in their crusade to spread the sport around the Atlanta area.
5:23 p.m. — Blank reiterates the point that he and Garber have been talking for a very long time to bring the MLS to Atlanta. Today is really the culmination of a very, very long process.
5:21 p.m. — The moment we’ve all been waiting for. Garber calls Blank up to the podium and officially welcomes Atlanta to Major League Soccer.
5:19 p.m. — “Hopefully we get the World Cup,” says Garber to cheers.
5:18 p.m. — Garber thanks Blank for helping to spread soccer across the Southeast and for giving kids a team that they will always have in their lives. Atlanta was on the MLS’s radar screen from the start, because of the young following the sport has in the city.
5:16 p.m. — Garber is the first speaker at today’s event and says he’s been speaking with Blank for years about bringing the MLS to Atlanta. He thinks Atlanta is the perfect, eclectic environment, adding “The MLS will be very successful in this city.”
5:12 p.m. — Owner of MLS Atlanta Arthur Blank and MLS Commissioner Don Garber are at the stage in front of the media and fans here after Garber arrived via helicopter. Upon landing, he shook Blank’s hand and put a scarf over him, signifying the passing of the 22nd MLS franchise to Blank. The MLS has officially come to Atlanta.
5:05 p.m. — We are underway on the 14th floor of Ventanas. Alexi Lalas, the event’s emcee, is welcoming those in attendance, and he says, “We are here to party,” adding it’s an exciting day for soccer fans in the Atlanta area.
4:55 p.m. — Also in attendance here for the announcement is former NBA star Dikembe Mutumbo.
4:48 p.m. — Terminus Legion is doing some fan chants with a bass drum before breaking into an “A-T-L! A-T-L!” chant. We’re less than 15 minutes away from the start of the 5 p.m. press conference.
4:39 p.m. — Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is in attendance, and defensive end Osi Umenyiora is also expected to be here for the 5 p.m. announcement.
4:20 p.m. — Arthur Blank, right, prepares for an interview with ESPN’s Alexi Lalas.
4:08 p.m. — Twitter user and soccer fan @alexperfect6 gets his photo taken with the MLS Cup Trophy.
3:54 p.m. — The Terminus Legion supporters group has, by far, the biggest crowd around their tent outside at the Celebration of Soccer. Terminus Legion is signing fans up to be part of the supporters group and giving out scarves.
3:30 p.m. — Fans across the street from the press conference location at the Celebration of Soccer event have a chance to see the MLS Cup Trophy up close.
3:08 p.m. — Alexi Lalas poses with an Atlanta MLS scarf.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 16, 2014
3 p.m. — The gates are open for the outside portion of the Celebration of Soccer as fans started to enter the an area where they will be able to watch today’s press conference live on big screens at 5 p.m.
2:37 p.m. — The 14th floor of Ventanas is abuzz with activity as final preparations are underway for today’s Celebration of Soccer event that includes a press conference at 5 p.m. Former US soccer legend and current ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas, the emcee of today’s event, is having a conversation on the stage and sharing a few laughs with the folks doing the final setup. Today’s event promises to be full of activity so keep checking back to this blog, the official @MLSAtlanta2017 account and hashtag #MLSAtlanta for more information.