Atlanta United will spend $23 million to expand, improve Marietta training center

Atlanta United training center

Credit: Atlanta United

Credit: Atlanta United

Atlanta United training center

Atlanta United will spend $23 million to expand its training ground by 20,000 square feet. The expansion will give dedicated space to Atlanta United 2 and its academy teams, a production studio and spaces to help players train better, recover faster and improve their cognitive abilities.

The training ground is at Franklin Gateway in Marietta.

The work is scheduled to begin in June, with part of it scheduled for completion in the summer of 2025 and all of it ready by the spring of 2026 before the World Cup. The work will happen on the center’s east side between the main building and the pavilion, whose ground floor locker rooms will be refurbished to accommodate national teams that may train at the center during the World Cup and future matches.

The expansion will be led by Impact Development Management. Rule Joy Trammell + Rubio will serve as the architectural and interior design firm.

Once completed, the main building will total 50,000 square feet and $85 million in investment by owner Arthur Blank. The main building opened in April 2017 at a cost of $60 million. When the main building was designed and built, the grassy area upon which the addition will be built included a pad with plumbing, sewer pipes and electricity in anticipation of future construction.

In an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta United President Garth Lagerwey said the approval and planning took several rounds of vetting and iterations.

“It’s not just us saying we’re one of the nicest facilities in the world,” Lagerwey said. “By level of investment, we are proving that we want to be one of the ambitious clubs in MLS, we want to be one of the best clubs in MLS.”

The new addition will be two stories, and the renderings show that the new structure will blend into the existing center. The expansion is being designed by the same team that designed the original center.

Credit: Atlanta United

icon to expand image

Credit: Atlanta United

Lagerwey said that basic planning for the addition began before he was hired in November 2022. But overseeing the final details and construction, and Blank’s ambition to have one of the world’s premier facilities, were among the draws for Lagerwey to join the franchise from Seattle.

“When we launched Atlanta United, we set out to ensure the club had everything it needed to be successful, and part of that was to have a state-of-the-art training facility to serve as the club’s home,” said Blank said in a statement provided by the club. “At its opening, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground was instantly the gold standard of MLS training facilities and has been routinely emulated by expansion teams that have since joined the league. Our intention has always been to further develop the campus in Marietta and that time has arrived.”

Teams from Atlanta United toured the training facilities at Seattle, where Lagerwey helped plan its recently opened training center, Real Salt Lake, Cincinnati, Austin and LAFC. Many MLS teams toured Atlanta’s facility after it first opened when they were formulating plans for their centers.

Lagerwey said Atlanta United’s new addition borrowed some ideas from things they saw during their tours.

One of the borrowed ideas is an an altitude room that players can use to exercise or help them recover more quickly. Austin has one. In an altitude room, the air is regulated to simulate lower oxygen content levels that happen at higher elevations.

“As our team hopefully continues to improve, then we will get more games, hopefully more Cup games, more Champions Cup games, more playoff games, so we need our players to recover better and to be available more often,” Lagerwey said.

There also will be a room in which the players can train to improve their cognitive abilities to improve vision and problem-solving, such as when they have the ball and are being pressed by an opponent in a match. Cognitive training is something that many NFL teams do.

“It was very important to us to address those two spaces,” Lagerwey said.

The spaces for Atlanta United 2 and the five academy teams will total 4,000 square feet. They will include a gym, locker room, classroom and administrative spaces.

Within the remaining space, there will be two production studios, a podcast and esports room and a press conference room, which don’t exist in the current building. Lagerwey said these additions are important because they are forms of media and competition that supporters are consuming.

“We’re going to do all that and be as ambitious as that Apple deal,” Lagerwey said, referring to one of MLS’ broadcast and partners.

The decision to add locker rooms to the ground floor of the pavilion was made because of the numerous additions to the soccer calendar in Atlanta combined with how well ticket sales have gone for recent matches, Lagerwey said.

The U.S. women’s national team trained last week at Atlanta United’s facility for the SheBelieves Cup, whose semifinals were played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The matches set a tickets-sold record for the U.S. women. Two Copa America matches will be played at the stadium in June. The 2025 Club World Cup will be played in the U.S. Atlanta will host eight matches in the 2026 World Cup. The U.S. and Mexico have submitted a joint bid to host the 2027 Women’s World Cup, within which Atlanta likely will play a role. There also likely will be more friendlies featuring national or club teams. Last year, the city and stadium hosted a doubleheader of teams from England’s Premier League. They will host Chelsea playing Club America in July. The Mexican men’s national team has played in Atlanta 10 times.

Outside the pavilion are two grass fields. One was turf, but it recently was converted to grass.

“We believe we have one of the nicest facilities in the world and by showcasing that ... we think that these elite players, these elite coaches are going to come through here and say, ‘Hey, I want to come work for Atlanta United,’” Lagerwey said. “So there’s a big strategic play here for us as well, that from the long term growth of the league as MLS ascends, we believe we now have the infrastructure to recruit and to ascend with it.”

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Atlanta United’s 2024 schedule

Feb. 24 Columbus 1, Atlanta United 0

March 9 Atlanta United 4, New England 1

March 17 Atlanta United 2, Orlando 0

March 23 Toronto 2, Atlanta United 0

March 31 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 0

April 6 Atlanta United 1, NYCFC 1

April 14 vs. Philadelphia, 2:30 p.m., Fox

April 20 vs. Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

April 27 at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.

May 4 vs. Minnesota, 7:30 p.m.

May 11 vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

May 15 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

May 18 at Nashville, 1:30 p.m.

May 25 vs. LAFC, 7:30 p.m.

May 29 at Miami, 7:30 p.m.

June 2 vs Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., Fox

June 15 vs. Houston, 7:30 p.m.

June 19 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

June 22 at St. Louis, 8:30 p.m.

June 29 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m.

July 3 at New England, 7:30 p.m.

July 6 at Real Salt Lake, 9:30 p.m.

July 13 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

July 17 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m.

July 20 vs. Columbus, 7:30 p.m.

July 26 vs. D.C. United in Leagues Cup, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 4 vs. Santos Laguna in Leagues Cup, 4 p.m.

Aug. 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 10:30 p.m.

Aug. 31 at Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 14 vs. Nashville, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 18 vs. Miami, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 2 vs. Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 5 vs. Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Orlando, 6 p.m.