Atlanta United hoping to make match day feel more normal

June 2, 2018 Atlanta: Atlanta United fans support their team against Philadelphia Union during the first half in a MLS soccer match on Saturday, June 2, 2018, in Atlanta.  Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

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June 2, 2018 Atlanta: Atlanta United fans support their team against Philadelphia Union during the first half in a MLS soccer match on Saturday, June 2, 2018, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Atlanta United’s game-day rituals won’t be exactly the same as they have been at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for most of the past four seasons, but they will be close, Vice President Catie Griggs said Thursday.

“We are trying to work through maintaining traditions on game day that make sense and are safe for everyone,” she said.

Some of the game-day rituals include the players walking from the bus into the stadium past supporters; the Golden Spike before the game; the players walking through the lounge, past supporters and on to the field; and the presentation of the player of the game award after the match.

To try to ensure the safety of the players and supporters during the COVID-19 pandemic, the player’ walk past supporters will not happen, at least when the stadium is at limited capacity. The Golden Spike will return in some capacity, possibly similar to last season when it was presented by video instead of with an in-person celebration. Griggs said access to the players will be very restricted.

In a change from the end of last season, Griggs said they are optimistic that the capo stand will return. The capo is the person who leads the supporter’s section in cheers before, during and after the match.

“When I look at 2021, there’s a lot of optimism,” she said. “I’m hopeful we reach a point where it does feel more normal again. We want to do the right things.”