Today, Atlanta is considered by many as the capital of culture, commerce, transportation, education, and sport in the American South. Founded in 1837, Atlanta reinvented itself post-American Civil War, growing at a steady rate to emerge as the informal capital of the New South. Between the 1960s and the 1990s, the city led the New South in population growth, economic development, and job creation.
Atlanta’s first professional sports championship came in football, when in 1968 the newly formed Atlanta Chiefs of the North American Soccer League won the championship. The inaugural season average of 7,000 fans in attendance, per game, was the second highest in the league. The success of the Chiefs spawned the growth of the Georgia State Soccer Association (GSSA) and professional teams like the Atlanta Beat, Atlanta Silverbacks and Atlanta United, the current professional team which joined Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2017. Atlanta United played the opening game of the their new stadium on 22 October 2017, before 71,874 spectators, beating the record for the largest crowd in a stand-alone MLS match. Atlanta United also set the single-season record for attendance. Atlanta has hosted major international football events such as the Concacaf Gold Cup quarter-finals (2013) and semi-finals (2015) and hosted the MLS All-Star Game in 2018. The Georgia Dome hosted the Super Bowl twice (1993, 2000) and the new stadium hosted Super Bowl LIII in 2019.
The 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, which took place in Atlanta, was the first Olympics that featured women’s football, where the USA women’s national team won gold. This event inspired millions of youth, and GSSA is currently the largest youth sports organization with over 90,000 players.
Atlanta is a blossoming football city that frequently hosts USA national team games and has many youth football development programs. As a host of the FIFA World Cup 2026™, Atlanta would use the opportunity to further promote the game, as well as use football educational programs to teach about environmental issues. With one of the most innovative and state-of-the-art stadiums in the country, Atlanta also hopes to use the World Cup 2026 to be a model for the way that new technology can transform the way people view and experience live sports. Other major events hosted in the city include the NCAA Men’s Final Four (1977, 2002, 2007, 2013); the NCAA Women’s Final Four (2003); NBA All-Star Game (2003); MLB All-Star Game (2000); PGA Championship (2001, 2011); NHL All-Star Game (2008); and WrestleMania XXVII (2011).