Major League Soccer is set to take flight in Atlanta, the city the National Football League's Falcons and National Basketball Association's Hawks already calling Georgia's capital home. In fact, the expansion club awarded to Atlanta on Wednesday -- which will be the 22nd MLS franchise -- will be owned by Falcons owner Arthur Blank and will play in a state-of-the-art retractable roof stadium that will be shared with the NFL team.
"We are thrilled to welcome Atlanta to Major League Soccer as our 22nd team," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement announcing the awarding of the Atlanta franchise. The club is expected to debut in 2017.
"Atlanta is one of the largest and most diverse markets in North America and has a rich tradition in sports and culture," Garber explained. "And with Arthur Blank joining our ownership group, we are adding one of the most respected owners in professional sports.
"Arthur is deeply passionate about soccer and our quest to become one of the top professional soccer leagues in the world. We look forward to working with him and the entire Falcons organization on achieving this important goal."
The Atlanta team's name and logo, along with the coaching and administrative staff, will be announced at a later date. Fans will be asked to provide their suggestions for the team name. The Atlanta franchise is the 11th to be added to MLS since the beginning of the 2005 season.
Among the newest clubs, New York City FC and Orlando City are slated to begin play in 2015 and a Miami franchise owned by England icon David Beckham is in the works -- although Beckham has yet to cement plans for a stadium for the club that is projected to also begin play in 2017.