Look closely and you’ll see Atlanta’s newest professional sports team coming to life.
Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium, which will be the temporary host site for Atlanta United FC of Major League Soccer, is preparing for the side’s first home match of the 2017 regular season Sunday, March 5, against the New York Red Bulls. In an image shared by ATLUTD Prospects, a Twitter page that follows the team, several of the lines that will define the pitch appear to be drawn, with the football team’s yard lines still fading into the grass.
The 103-year-old field is just big enough to contain an entire pitch, which should give fans a chance to be heard by the players.
Outfitting the field for MLS play meant tearing up the artificial turf on the football sidelines and replacing it with real grass, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It’ll cost $350,000 to re-install the turf on the sidelines once Atlanta United moves out of the stadium and into Mercedes-Benz Stadium for good, and the franchise will foot that bill, the report added.
Between March 5 and July 4, Atlanta United will play eight matches at Bobby Dodd, which has a seating capacity of 55,000. Each time the side plays at the stadium, Georgia Tech will receive $45,000, plus $2 for every ticket sold, according to a separate AJC report. They’ll also get a cut from all food, drinks and merchandise sold, the report added.
According to the Atlanta United website, tickets for the March 5 match will go on sale to the general public Thursday. The expansion side has already sold 27,000 season ticket packages, according to MLSSoccer.com. This breaks the previous expansion record of 22,000 season tickets sold by the Seattle Sounders in 2009, the report also said.
The side expects to compete for a postseason spot immediately, especially after recent news that Premier League and U.S. Men’s National Team goalie Brad Guzan will join the club this summer.
Atlanta United will be the home side in two preseason matches prior to the move to Bobby Dodd Stadium. Both of those matches will be played at MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina.
The first preseason match for the franchise is Saturday, Feb. 11 at Chattanooga FC.Follow @Sean_Breslin