Landing the new Atlanta MLS team: Here’s how much it cost Arthur Blank

AP Photo/David Goldman
AP Photo/David Goldman

Arthur Blank spent years working on acquiring a team – a Major League Soccer team, not the Atlanta Falcons.

The pursuit cost Blank somewhere between $70 and $100 million before the MLS finally awarded Atlanta a franchise, according to Saporta Report.

But it was a fee the Home Depot co-founder just had to pay, due to his love for soccer. It’s a love he developed through his son’s footballing skills, and he’s had the itch to own a soccer club ever since.

(Also read: Braves pitchers, not hitters, carrying the club to success)

At a Wednesday celebration to announce the new Atlanta MLS franchise, Blank disclosed to the crowd of hundreds that his passion for soccer started with his 17-year-old son, Joshua, who has played the sport since he was young. Blank met his current fianceé, Angela Macuga, at one of Joshua’s soccer games, Maria Saporta reported, and attributes a shared love for the sport as one reason why they’ll be getting married.

The team will begin play in 2017 at the new Falcons Stadium, and it will be interesting to see how much this international city will support the franchise. But there are plenty of reasons to believe games will attract tens of thousands, as hard as that may be for Atlanta sports fans to believe.

For one, Blank isn’t going to allow any product of his to fail. He’s a businessman, and every one of his ventures are successful. I don’t expect the soccer team to be any different. If he has to sell $1 tickets to get butts in the seats, he’ll do it. Arthur Blank is not in the business of losing money.

As with any city that contains a large foreign population, soccer is a big deal in Atlanta among some demographics. Last month, a friendly between Mexico and Nigeria drew 68,212 fans to the Georgia Dome, according to For The Win.

No, the new MLS franchise won’t draw that many fans. However, Blank will be looking to bring in stars from countries with a lot of soccer fans in the A-T-L in order to fill as many seats as possible. Expect to see him go after a big-name soccer star, possibly one from Mexico or the United States, in the first few years of play.

For The Win also mentions that if you took just one-fourth of the crowd from that Mexico-Nigeria friendly, it would still rank 12th out of 19 current MLS teams in terms of average attendance. So it’s not like the bar is set all that high.

I’ll be in attendance at the new Falcons Stadium when the new soccer team takes the pitch. After all, it might be the only sport I’ll be able to afford in that place.

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