Top Stories

NFL’s Falcons release new stadium designs featuring soccer configuration

MLS Logo


With Orlando City’s stadium deal approved and ready to begin, there’s a real possibility that Atlanta could join Orlando as the next cities with Major League Soccer expansion teams.

In an interview with WSB-TV in Atlanta, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank revealed new designs of his proposed $1 billion retractable-roof stadium that will replace the Georgia Dome, including configurations to the stadium when soccer games are held. The photos released show a look similar to BC Place in Vancouver, with partitions that would cover the middle and upper bowls of the stadium from view.

Blank has reportedly been speaking with MLS Commissioner Don Garber about bringing an MLS team to Atlanta, and with Garber’s expectation of a new stadium in every expansion city, Blank seems more than happy to accommodate MLS in his football stadium designs.

Though ground hasn’t broken yet on the proposed stadium, the team has a site in place and they purchased the last private-owned plot of land on the property, clearing the way for work to begin sometime next year.

The stadium is expected currently to be ready by 2017.

What do you think of these developments? Do you like the designs? Do you see an MLS team thriving in Atlanta?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. How do you make Orlando (taxpayers) build a soccer specific stadium in order to get a team but not Arthur Blank (worth1.7billion) build one to secure a team? Doesn’t seem fair.

  2. All the people talking about wanting to see solid support for the silverbacks obviously haven’t been doing their homework. The silverbacks have been packing out their stadium almost every single game and the location is horrendous. Granted its a small stadium, about 5500 capacity if I’m not mistaken. But what this shows is that Atlanta is ready to take the next step. With good ownership and a good location, Atlanta could have a powerhouse team here in the south.

    Also, say what you will about Atlanta sports fans but none of those hawks, thrashers, braves or falcons statistics matter when it comes to bringing in a soccer team. If you are a true soccer fan you know that soccer fanatics are an entirely different breed than any other sport.

    The AO Atlanta chapter can attest to that.

  3. I’ve read the only question is the fans a million times, I’ve read Atlanta is a fickle sports town…hmm yet they manage to host the final four,super bowls, the olympics….SEC championships…fickle. If you lived here you’d understand Atlanta fans want an ownership that actually cares about the team they put out. Arthur Blank puts up a competitive team this city will love him for it, there is absolutely nothing to do in the summer other than go to a braves game this provides another outlet in a beautiful stadium this is a win win. Sign me up for season tickets.

  4. That’s awesome that the pic with the soccer configuration also has their likely MLS attendance shown in the stands (hint: it’s an empty stadium).

  5. When I lived in GA, the pre-Michael Vick Falcons attracted about 12 fans per game. They weren’t the Bulldogs and no one cared. Atlanta ranked next to Miami as the worst sports town in America. I hope times have changed. 10+ years on, this sounds like a solid plan. Good luck ATL.

  6. Possible names ONCE Atlanta gets a SSS 🙂 no nfl stadium.
    Atlanta Olympic fc
    Olympic city Atlanta
    Atlanta Olympic city
    Atlanta chiefs
    Georgia united fc
    Atlanta city
    There is only one united team in MLS, so sooner than later another team will get the name.

  7. Can’t wait. I think it’ll work. Atlanta is a city of transplants and hopefully this will be a fresh start for everyone to get behind the hometown team. I also hope the Silverbacks can be a part of the deal. Wouldn’t mind a name change. I’ve seen 5000 crammed into Silverbacks park for an NASL game and around 30000 for a Gold Cup game in the Dome. What our other teams have done or not done in the postseason has nothing to do with how this will work out. The Falcons sell out every game and the Braves are in the top third of attendance for MLB. Blank is a great owner. I hope it happens and he proves some people wrong.

    • Those transplants and natives give lukewarm support to the other pro teams in ATL. It’s a pipe dream to think they will suddenly stampede to pro soccer in a NFL stadium. ATL is about TV and corporate deals. Anything else will be gravy.

      • Selling out every game is lukewarm support? Pipe dream to think that something could happen again that already happened (Seattle)?

  8. Soccer is growing and so is atl diversity. Picture this its april no football but you can go drink at the falcons stadium and yell at ppl. This sounds like something the south might like. ALSO with the right supporters group this place can be rockin much like college football.I’m giving this a chance I like the idea of doing things ppl say Can’t be done.

  9. I lived in ATL for 12 years before moving back to my native California. I’m of two minds. If the ATL team is a consistently playoff team (even if they fall short), they could be Sounders Southeast. If they falter, it could be disastrous for attendance. Atlantans are a fickle sports bunch who are more loyal to college football than any professional teams. That said, the Braves and Falcons pull big numbers when they’re good.

    I always wanted to support the Silverbacks, but the transit issue (Atlanta has the worst public transit of a *major* American city, make no mistake, thanks to lack of state funding for MARTA; even LA Metro covers the terrain better than Atlanta) was a MASSIVE deterrent for a college kid without wheels.

    I’d love to see Blank adopt the Silverbacks name to create a sense of history and put them near MARTA, where it’s easier to get to matches. If those things happen, I will absolutely go back to Atlanta for ATL-SJ matches in a heartbeat and wish them the best for getting an MLS team.

  10. The stadium looks nice, but I have to be honest, the MLS needs to stay away from Atlanta. It may be one of the worst sports towns in America. The Hawks are out numbered when they play the Knicks, the Braves only show up when it matters. The Thrashers left Atlanta for Canada. The only thing they are okay in is football. I believe other cities are more deserving of an MLS franchise like St. Louis. Also not a big fan of the Florida sports towns. The only reason I like the Orlando franchise is because they already have an established fan base for Orlando City SC.

    • ” I believe other cities are more deserving of an MLS franchise”

      Ya know what’s great? No one cares what you believe and we’re getting a team. Ha ha.

    • Well, the NASL team was called the Chiefs, which would go nicely with the Braves of the MLB, but the best bet is probably to just use the team already here: the Atlanta Silverbacks. The Atlanta Zoo was famous for a silverback gorilla named Willie B, which is why that team took that name.

  11. can’t decide if this is either Seattle or New England of the South..

    ATL sounds like they want a team. hope it works

    even if this isn’t part of an MLS team it will be a good venue for the USNT, Gold Cups, WC?!

  12. It is amazing how many soccer fans are entitled elitist arseholes. Maybe the stadium isn’t perfect, but there is gonna be MLS in downtown Atlanta. That is huge for MLS and huge for soccer in America. Everyone should be happier for the growth of the sport here and stop nitpicking every detail.

  13. Love it. Why waste public money on two stadiums when one can be shared like this? Worries about fields lines, etc, are not worth the $100 million it would take to build a SSS and a Football stadium. Plus, location location location. The quality of experience will be better for fans and players in this stadium (assuming they use grass, of course) in a much nicer stadium, such as this.

    • Location is a big selling point. The pros end there.

      The MLS franchise would be beholden to the Falcons as their lease holder. For everything.

      You’d have an NFL team and an MLS team playing at the same time. I saw what Soldier Field looked like when the Fire shared it would the Bears. Disgusting.

      Contrary to popular opinion around here, optics can be extremely damaging. The optics of football lines on a professional soccer team’s field is one that can literally damage a brand. And damage it badly.

      Honestly, it’s on par with the baseball diamonds visible during the game.

      • the only thing worse than playing soccer over gridiron lines is playing soccer over infield dirt and pitcher’s mounds #nycfc

    • Amen Falls City, Amen.

      Look for me in the “NFL” stadium on Sunday. My seats are obviously VERY nice in the $500 million (?) stadium.

      I will be home from the game in less than 1/2 hour after the whistle.

  14. For everyone whining about Atlanta’s stadium, at least it will better than when NYCFC starts playing on dirt cutouts in Yankee Stadium for 2+ years…now that will be hideous.

    • They’re not mutually inclusive.

      You can hate both equally. And you should.

      Do people have any idea the wear and tear that having an NFL and an MLS team simultaneously playing on a grass field will do it?

      That pitch will be a joke.

      • So taxpayers are supposed to build as many stadiums for as many teams in their city? That seems like such a waste.

      • it would be possible to construct MLS specific stadiums without public money if the precedent for it wasn’t set by NFL/MLB/NBA/NHL threatening to relocate teams every 4 years for the last 20 years. If you think it’s unfair, then sue those people. Really sports are so heavily subsidized it’s sick.

  15. “You heard the ATL-iens, so back the hell up off me!” – ‘Kast

    So glad, and can’t understand the hate from folks. After spending ten plus years in this city, i’m super proud that not only could this happen, but the stadium will be downtown where everyone can take MARTA to the game. That was always my issue with Silverbacks stadium…not near public trans. But with this near the old Georgia Dome, there is NO EXCUSE for this to fail: we’ll get the suburban soccer families from the north atlanta suburbs, the international/Latino community from the Buford Highway area, the hipster and soccer watching crowds from Lil Five, etc etc. LEZ GO!

  16. To the Atlanta fans.

    One I hope it happens for you.
    Two, get used to the whining. There are guys that still want Seattle to move.
    68,000 fans on Sunday, in the greatest stadium in world, but they want them to move.

    If they will whine about that, nothing will stop them.

    • Clearly a Sounders fan.

      A. C-Link is probably in the 200ish of great stadiums of the world.
      B. People want them to move because they play on a low quality astroturph that is so poor some players refuse to play on it.

      Nice try shining over the issues though.

      • Maybe I am being a homer, petedx, but I would love to see the list of 200 stadiums. Probably has Chelsea on there.

      • Stadiums are as much about the history and culture as they are about the aesthetics. They are canvases for memories and people.

        Since you brought up Chelsea–we can talk about Stamford Bridge. Built in 1877 (renovated a few times). The history and culture and experience of game there is quite impressive and easily trumps C-Link.
        Like Old Trafford
        San Siro
        Camp Nou
        The iconic Brazilians stadiums. The Italian stadiums. The older English stadiums.

        But more importantly, if you’re really going to try and sit here and tell us that you think C-link is a better soccer stadium than Stamford Bridge you should be banned from commenting.

    • Wow, just wow. I have seen some delusional comments but “greatest stadium in world” may be the all-time winner. I guess it’s probably in the top 5 for American professional football but that’s only out of 32.

      • I think it’s ridiculous to even entertain the notion of a “greatest stadium”. Each one is going to have its charms and drawbacks and there’s no way to say one is objectively better based on how you feel when you watch a game there.

        Seattle has a very nice stadium. Good amenities, good location, good views, great architecture for amplifying crowd noise, and a fanbase that actually shows up for the games. I’m not gonna privilege some old English ground because it’s been there for a long time. I’m more worried about how it feels to take in a game there.

  17. I guess MLS is so committed to its expansion timetable that it’ll accept a team playing in a football stadium in the worst sports town in America. Yikes!

    • Worst sports town in America? The Falcons and Braves draw very well, the Hawks would too if they were ever halfway competitive. Even Georgia Tech does well with it being the second most popular school there. It’s definitely not Miami. or Jacksonville. Or Tampa Bay. Or Phoenix. Or Seattle. Or Salt Lake City. Or San Diego. Or Los Angeles with its extremely fair weather fans. Obviously it’s not on par with Boston or Chicago, but I would say it’s a pretty solid sports town.

      • Some of the towns you named are also pretty bad (although Seattle, LA and SLC are not good examples at all). However, I stick by my comment. The Braves, Falcons and Hawks are poorly supported, the hockey team moves away, and I don’t see any evidence of a passion for soccer in the area.

      • I laughed off your earlier ignorant comments but by now it’s clear you’re just a front-page ESPN follower. Braves and Falcons may not be among the top 5 attendances in their sports, but each is right among the middle of the pack. Not completely unexpected given their long-term success levels. As if you haven’t seen evidence of Atlanta being passionate about soccer, then I’m quite confident in saying you’ve either

        -Never been to Atlanta
        -Trust everything you read/see on ESPN and Sportscenter (long documented as biased against the Atlanta market)
        -Have been to Atlanta but had a bad experience or are a fan in a rival sports city

        But hey, nice try dude!

      • *hands up* but hey, you got us with the “hockey team leaves town” comment. It doesn’t help that our winters never get below 30 unless we get a strange cold front and the percentage of sports-playing kids participating in hockey here is in the single digits. Disregard the fact that Atlanta is one of the elite hotbeds for soccer talent though, that would only hurt your argument.

      • The Falcons sell out every game. The Braves have good, not great attendance. The hockey team left because the ownership were terrible, they gave it away. There were fans and support for it, but it was run into the ground. I think Blank’s track record proves that it will be a different story with the MLS team, should it happen.

    • > I guess MLS is so excited about expanding that it’ll jump at the opportunity to accept a team playing in a billion dollar multi-configuration stadium in the best sports town in the south. Awesome!


  18. It’s going to happen, people should just deal with it.

    Don’t see this much complaining about BC place in Vancouver who does the same thing of blocking off the upper bowl.

    • The thing is Atlanta is not the same as Vancouver. All Vancouver has is the CFL team and the hockey team. That is why they draw well. Atlanta does not fill the stadium for Falcons games.

      • Hey Larry, The Falcons sold out their season tickets faster than any other team selling tickets. Yes I understand alot of NFL teams don’t even sell tickets (Green Bay, etc.). Some of you guys are delusional about Atlanta sports.

    • I am not complaining about Seattle’s stadium, it is the best in MLS….and another 68k who agree with me will be there watching on Sunday.

      Be careful if they promise you grass however….they might be lying on that.

  19. Cities should not be giving money to the super rich for stadiums. Why is this being referred to as “his” stadium when the only money he is putting up is through a loan from the NFL. So Blank gets a free stadium, the city pays to run and maintain it, and he can make tons of money off it. All under the guise that the city benefits economically from 10-12 major events a year.

    • Free? Blank and the Falcons are paying 80%+ of this thing! City input is capped at $200M, and considering how much this plays into the success of the convention center owned by the City it’s actually worth the investment.

      Research before accusing, please.

  20. Waaaahhhh, I don’t want Atlanta to put a team in that downtown, centrally located, grass pitch stadium that was designed in strict accordance with FIFA standards. It will be just like New England (?). Also, no one likes soccer in that city ranked 2nd in NASL attendance even while the Silverbacks were at the bottom of the table last year. Please don’t let thousands of fans in Atlanta be happy and have an MLS team to call their own. I just won’t be able to sleep at night if that happens.

    Wahhhhh…..(insert more b-s here).

  21. With all whining and cheering in the comments section aside, I look at the images closely and decided that it is better to build a SSS. Because I get the feeling that Blank is not interested in MLS but in making him rich through the leasing of HIS stadium. If Atlanta MLS team was to fold, he would not care. That is my 2 cents. Blank’s stadium is perfect for a World Cup match and can be a major player in convincing FIFA to hand WC 2026 to USA.

    • That is an inane comment. Have you seen University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale? Been there a few times as a Duck fan and outside of when they inexplicably water it (BCS title game vs Auburn comes to mind), they retract the grass and have amazing grass surfaces at the ready without lines for soccer.

      To sum it up – quit complaining, you’re damn lucky you even have an Arthur Blank in ATL or else the Braves would be playing to a 3/4 empty Turner field and you would have nothing else.

  22. Would be an ENORMOUS step backward for the league which publicly prides itself on the growth of SSS.

    F Blank and his powerplay for a lease agreement. Send him packing. Own your own stadium or don’t set up a franchise.

    • Exactly, do not like Blank’s dual stadium idea, but I do get the feeling that he genuinely likes sports and making money, not just one as a means to another.

    • Lol it’s so easy for you, who has nothing to gain to tell Arthur Blank, a near billionaire “F Blank”. Quit being an idiot, he’s got the money to get in the game, that’s all that matters.

      • Tired of arguing with whiners. I am just glad Atlanta’s plans are annoying you. We’re crashing your party and I couldn’t be happier.

  23. I said it again, Vancouver is setting the wrong the example for expansion teams, who want to use NFL stadiums. Vancouver is a gorgeous city who can easily support a 25,000 water front stadium. So what phoenix wants in, every stadium will look the same way.We need more skc owners and stadiums like theirs. C’mon Garber!!!!!!!!!!

    • Agreed. SKC and SSS should be the model. As someone anticipating NYC2 for a long time, I’m just blah about the whole thing now. Starting in a baseball stadium (most likely)? No thanks. I won’t leave Red Bull for that, no matter how hard it is to support a club named after an energy drink.

      • What is wrong wit you people? If you want to be a fan of a club you should be willing to watch them in a back alley behind your local super market. Waaahhhhh, I got a new team I wanted to root for but they don’t have a stadium that meets my expectations yet! Give me a break

  24. The pictures look pretty, but they don’t make sense. For one thing, NFL teams prefer turf and soccer is better played on grass. Yes there are a number of MLS teams playing on turf, but if they’re not in soccer specific stadiums, they’re having problems and visiting teams have players refusing to play on the material — which is kind of a problem for MLS. On the flip side, every year NFL teams complain about playing on the natural surface in London’s Wembley. Then this past weekend we had the example of what happens to a natural field in Houston when a local football team plays and practices there 3 times in one week — destruction of the playing surface and an ugly picture for TV. Back to the days of football lines on the field. Odd bounces, poor play and disappointed home fans.

    For another thing, soccer fields are wider than football fields, so there would have to be a whole lot of green space around the football field configuration. Usually in NFL games there are lots and lots of people standing in those areas, and they also get painted to hell.

    Look, the building is beautiful and architecturally interesting. But I would rather see a soccer team playing in a true soccer-specific stadium. I would rather see someone take the Atlanta Silverbacks’ setup and expand that into a SSS.

      • Compare the drawings between the NFL vs the MLS configuration.

        In the MLS setup, many of the seats in the corners are removed vs. the NFL setup, and the angle of some of the seating in at least one entire corner section magically changes to align more parallel to the field.

        Thus proving it’s just a concept drawing used to make a sales pitch. I would treat it as such and not draw too many other conclusions from these pictures.

    • > For another thing, soccer fields are wider than football fields, so there would have to be a whole lot of green space around the football field configuration.

      They’ve solved this by adjusting the seating configuration.

      There’s a subtle difference on the mockups, check out the arrows on these two links. The corner seating sections slide back to accommodate FIFA field dimensions. There’s even another configuration that allows for basketball (ATl gets the Final Four often). The architecture firm designing this stadium is the best in the world.

  25. Looks like the stadium can be Vancouver-ized. Looks really nice. I assume the stadium has a retractable dome. Atlanta is a big market; expands MLS in the Southeast. This is all good to great stuff.

    However, Atlanta still has a deserved rep as the worst sports fans in America. Have the Silverbacks ever had good attendance figures?

    Overall, expansion money is expansion money. But I am not totally sold on this.

  26. The image caption: “The configuration for soccer if Atlanta were to get a Major League Soccer or World Cup game.” We’ll don’t hold your breath on that World Cup game but if it ever did happen in the distant future, you probably won’t be covering any of the seats.

    • I know it isn’t ideal, but the field turf at Jeld-Wen is amazing – sheesh, if Henry will play on it, I figure some of you haters would zip it on it:-)

      I get that it isn’t ideal, but what if we combined the best (Silverbacks setup, SSS, et al) with the perceived worst (Jeld-Wen style field turf).Would that still be a W for MLS and all involved?

  27. Maybe I’m the only one, but why is MLS even considering anyone without a SSS plan? At this point, with multiple viable candidates, MLS should be making a SSS a prerequisite. Obviously not every team can have one the day they open, but IMO, we shouldn’t be cheering about a potential team coming in and having no aspirations of a home of their own. Being similar to BC Place, in my mind, isn’t a good thing.

  28. There are plenty of soccer fans in ATL. MLS can thrive there as long as the ownership run the front office effectively.

    Regarding the panels, I wish they would do something more creative with them, like photos or team logos or something. Same goes for BC Place.

    Lastly, I don’t think we should automatically assume that the Silverbacks would be the team playing in MLS, should Atlanta get approved for expansion. I’m looking forward to finding out…

  29. Arthur Blank is one of the best owners in the NFL, in my opinion (Falcons are a competitive franchise again, not this year though lol). I especially like the fact that he intends to invest in MLS instead of buying stake in the Premiership or elsewhere in Europe.

    The video Halo would look great if they can pull it off… and I also like the panels moving down for the soccer configuration concealing the unused seats.

    • I know that it is the largest television market in the country without an MLS team. With a stadium like this, in this market, that is a slam dunk. Arthur Blank is the co founder of Home Depot, and is LOADED. He seems like a good owner of the Falcons and has shown interest in having an MLS team for several years. He was even close to buying the Braves. If MLS is serious about moving into the SE then this would be awesome if there are enough soccer crazed people in Atlanta to support it. Fan support is the ONLY thing questionable about Atlanta. For a league wanting a national footprint, Atlanta being a successful soccer town would be ideal. Again, the only question is the fans.

      • > I know that it is the largest television market in the country without an MLS team.

        To further your point, Atlanta is the 8th largest TV market in the country.

    • I’ve heard Atlanta has a decent soccer culture but there are still tons of the SE that none of the favorites to get the 3 open spots left will cover. Atlanta is about as far away from me as DC is.

      • I get what you are saying. For me, MLS in the SE (aside from FL) should be North Carolina (Triangle or Charlotte, don’t know), Nashville, and Atlanta, taking into consideration, geography, city size, and TV market. I would actually prefer Nashville and NC, but spots are getting limited. You must think with this ownership, TV market, stadium and proximity to FL with its ability to link Orlando and Miami? to the rest of the NE really excites MLS. Who knows how many teams end up in MLS. The other cities besides the ones mentioned I can see working IF there was a good stadium and owner, are San Antonio, and St. Louis. I am not sold on Minn. and Detroit.

      • I suspect whatever momentum existed for MLS in Nashville is gone. When was the last time the US played there?

      • March 2012 – an Olympic qualifying match in which the US tied El Salvador 3-3. Attendance just under 8,000, “evenly split between US and Salvadoran fans” per a contemporaneous news story.

        Not an overwhelming recommendation for soccer in Nashville.

    • ATL is an important market for MLS for TV and corporate deals. It’s basically the capitol of the south. Every city brings something different to the table for MLS. So if the ATL stadium and/or support isn’t the greatest that’s ok in the big picture.

      • If its grass, you aint got to worry about the stadium. I wonder what the support would be like? I have a hunch that there are a lot of people in Atlanta that would support a professional team. You are right about the market. A necessity for MLS if they want to be in the South. Largest TV market in the US not represented by MLS.

    • I know what you mean. Relatively insignificant local followings for minor league teams are a huge predictor of MLS attendence.


      Salt Lake, Toronto, Seattle, Vancouver and Portland

      • From a Timbers perspective, Seattle had a crap following in USL. The loss of the Sonics was psychological, at least that’s what my Flounder friends contend is the main reason for the mass influx of fans into the Clink. Hey, kudos to them, doesn’t bother me one bit, just know despite being bigger, you will always be the little brother.

        singed, the youngest of 5 children.

Leave a Comment