NEW YORK: Major League Soccer expects a new franchise in Atlanta to be ready to compete from the 2017 season.

The Atlanta franchise will be the league’s 22nd team and will be owned by Arthur Bank who owns the city’s NFL franchise, the Atlanta Hawks.

A new stadium with a retractable roof in the heart of Atlanta will house both the Falcons and the new MLS side, with a capacity of 29,000 for soccer games.

MLS commissioner Don Garber announced the news on Wednesday and said: “We are thrilled to welcome Atlanta to Major League Soccer as our 22nd team. Atlanta is one of the largest and most diverse markets in North America and has a rich tradition in sports and culture.

“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 team name and logo will be announced at a later date and fans will be given the opportunity to voice their suggestions.

Blank first contacted the league in 2008 which led to his group researching six different markets .

“We are very excited to bring a Major League Soccer team to Atlanta,” Blank said in a statement.

“We are going to build a first-class organization on and off the field that will be a source of pride for the entire community, and we believe our downtown stadium will become a destination for soccer fans throughout the Southeast for many years to come.”

The news follows the creation of the New York City Football Club and David Beckham’s Miami franchise.


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