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The Building of a Club – Atlanta United

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May 2, 2016

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I was in Atlanta recently to get a closer look at Atlanta United and how the club is being built out. There are a lot of really interesting things taking place with Atlanta United and with soccer in the area in general. The southeast has long been starved for an MLS club of their own to support and Atlanta United is harnessing that excitement and energy that people have for the sport around there and incorporating that as they build out the club.

The first order of business while I was the announcement that Atlanta United is building out a world class training ground. The club is spending $60 million on this training ground and has plans for it to be one of the top training grounds in global football. It’s a massive investment into the future of the club and it shows the kind of ambition that the club has, long before they play in a competitive match.

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This competitive nature and drive to succeed starts at the top with Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank. Mr. Blank spoke at the unveiling of the training ground and one thing that he kept talking about was being the best. The new stadium being built in Atlanta for both United and the Falcons is sponsored by Mercedes Benz and Mr. Blank referenced the German auto makers tagline – “the best or nothing.” It’s clear that Mr. Blank expects the best in everything that he does and that ethos is certainly palpable with Atlanta United. It was impressive to hear him talk about the club, his passion for the sport and his vision for what the club will become. Atlanta United fans can rest assured that their club has an owner who cares deeply about this club, this sport and Atlanta.

Speaking of the Mercedes Benz stadium that is being built, I had a chance to go and check it out and see the progress that is being made on it. The stadium is slated to open in June 2017 and it looks like it is going to be an incredible stadium. The design of the stadium is absolutely incredible and the scale of what is being built is mind boggling. Seeing all this in the construction phase was pretty special and awe inspiring.

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Carlos Bocanegra guided us along on the stadium tour and he talked about some key areas of the stadium that have been well thought out that will help this stadium be world class. Be that hydrotherapy pools, tech areas to prepare for matches, special warm up areas for players that brings the stadium in alignment with certain FIFA conditions, thus allowing the stadium to be considered a future world Cup site and small intricacies that are being incorporated that come through the knowledge and experience that Carlos brings to the table as a former pro. This is going to be a special stadium. Everyone involved with the club kept talking about this stadium being one of the truly great stadiums in global sports. I have no doubt that the Mercedes Benz stadium will in fact takes its place as one of the worlds great stadiums.

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The scope and scale of the work being done is difficult to explain. Massive cranes and work crews are working around the clock to make sure the stadium opens as expected. There is even a crane on sight that is the biggest crane in the United States. There is only one other crane in the world as big as this one and it is stationed somewhere in Asia. Big visions require the requisite tools to make those dreams come to life. And this is exactly what is going on here.

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Take a couple of minutes and watch this video showing some of the work being done to build this stadium:

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Early stages of a hydrotherapy pool to help players recover better.

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The view to downtown Atlanta has been incredibly worked into the overall experience that fans can expect at the stadium.

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Also on the tour and present during our stay was Juan Carlos Osorio, coach of the Mexican National Team. A few of us had the chance to have dinner with him while in Atlanta and what an impressive guy he is. His knowledge and passion for the game oozes out of him and it becomes clear why he has done such a great job in his short time in charge of Mexico. It’s not everyday you get to have dinner with an international coach like Juan Carlos Osorio and it is something that I will certainly remember.

If you can dream it you can build it. That applies to the dream of building a brand new MLS franchise as much as it does to building a stadium of which has never been built before. Great things come from bold ambitions, and Atlanta United is the embodiment of this. Well beyond the club ever kicking a ball in a completive match, they are in the process of building out a modern day soccer club that appears committed to the now as much as the future. The stadium, the training facility and the people that are working for the club are all in place to to make sure that Atlanta United is the kind of soccer club that everyone involved is dreaming of.

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