Atlanta is a “prohibitive favourite” to land a Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion franchise, according to Sports Illustrated.
English Premier League club Manchester City teamed up with MLB baseball franchise New York Yankees to land the League’s 20th club, New York City FC, in May. The team expects to begin play in 2015 and MLS officials are now focused on expanding the League to 24 franchises by 2020. Sports Illustrated, citing multiple sources, said the League and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank are “deep into discussions” that is set to result in an MLS club sharing a downtown stadium with the NFL franchise.
The Falcons intend to open a new US$1 billion, retractable roof facility in 2017. The new stadium may feature a secondary retractable roof system that will cover the upper tiers, leaving a capacity of around 27,000 for MLS games. The Vancouver Whitecaps utilise a similar system at their BC Place home. It is unclear whether an Atlanta MLS team would join the League in 2017 or launch earlier and play in a temporary home.
MLS commissioner Don Garber is said to have told League staff at meetings last week that three of the four subsequent expansion sites after New York City FC have already been decided. Along with Atlanta, both Miami and Orlando have been strongly linked with securing a team.