8 theories for Atlanta United’s recent land purchase in Cobb

Atlanta United purchased 17 acres at 849 Franklin Gateway for $9.6 million two weeks ago.

The purchased was approved by Marietta City Council, and came as a surprise to those who follow (and report) on the team.

Though several people have been repeatedly asked, none have divulged the team’s plans for the land, which is shaped like a triangle and is behind the team’s training facility. The right side of the tract is partially bordered by a creek. The back is bordered by I-75. The left side is a hill and partially bordered by an apartment complex. The size is roughly half of the 33 acres the team currently owns and uses for the training ground.

There are two reasons the reason for the purchase has yet to be announced. The first is only a few know. The second is the team doesn’t want the plans out yet because they must still be approved by the city.

Several theories for the land’s use have been put out on social media. I thought it would be fun on a dreary Monday to take a look at the most popular:

  1.  A women’s professional team.

Likelihood in my opinion: Unlikely.

I asked Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank last year if he was considering starting a women’s professional team. He said, “There hasn’t been any discussion.” But didn’t shut the door. “I would like to think aspirationally that it might be something at the right time to consider.”

The land is big enough to house a team headquarters for coaching staff, locker rooms, etc. with some parking. The teams could either construct a training field or share training fields with Atlanta United, which has the use of six fields, some of which I’m not sure I’ve seen used. 

There are three business-related issues with starting a women’s professional team: will there be leagues to play in on annual basis because they don’t seem financially stable, will there be any revenue incoming to offset the expenses and where will the team play (more on that in the third item)?

2. A girls academy.

Likelihood in my opinion: Intriguing.

Several MLS teams have girls academies, including NYCFC and L.A. Galaxy. This would seem like something that Atlanta United would embrace because it is inclusionary and of interest to the team’s supporters.

3. A stadium for Atlanta United 2.

Likelihood in my opinion: Highly unlikely.

A soccer field is approximately 2.7 acres. That’s just the field. After a stadium is constructed, with concourses, etc. the land disappears quickly. Fifth Third Bank Stadium, where Atlanta United 2 plays, takes up 21 acres.

And then there’s parking, which is a bit of an issue at the team’s training facility. Where would the hundreds to thousands of those who come to a game park?

I was wrong three years ago when I didn’t think Atlanta United and Georgia Tech could work together to make Bobby Dodd Stadium function as a soccer stadium, so I could be wrong again. A parking deck could be constructed outside one end of a stadium, but it seems like a tough fit.

4. More parking.

Likelihood in my opinion: Very.

First, it’s in the South, where concrete is king.

Second, as I just noted, parking at the team’s training facility can be an issue a few times a year when there is a lot of media combined with the team, the 2s, the players in the Academy, and tours happening at the same time.

5. More office space.

Likelihood in my opinion: Very.

Office space in the $60 million training facility is already at a premium. Media who used to work in the pristine lobby are now working out of the pavilion adjacent to the main building because there are small meetings held in the lobby because there is a lot going on.

Extra office space and extra parking could be combined into one idea for a building.

6. A team store.

Likelihood in my opinion: Possible.

Atlanta United’s team store in Atlantic Station seems to do well but can become overcrowded on days when new items debut.

A team store near the facility, combined with extra office space and parking, would alleviate some of that overflow.

7. A VIP Immersive Experience.

Likelihood in my opinion: No idea. 

How about a cool hangout for season-ticket holders and corporate sponsors to go where they can watch soccer games on TVs, meet Atlanta United players from time to time, play games likes foosball, Subbuteo, compete at a driving range for soccer similar to Top Golf, and just have fun in a soccer-themed complex?

Call it the Atlanta United Socceratorium presented by (fill in the blank).

8. A residence/school for Academy players and to be used by team during training camp and trips.

Likelihood in my opinion: Possible.

This would be like a boarding house for young soccer players to get an education and play soccer in a controlled environment.

The senior team players could use it during training camp for bonding and as a place to sleep before flying out early for games.

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A BONUS THEORY:

A giant statue of Jose Martinez.

Hey, why not?

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About the Author

Doug Roberson
Doug Roberson
Doug Roberson covers the Atlanta United and Major League Soccer.
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