Caption

AJC Soccer Insider: Atlanta’s MLS team could shatter records

Atlanta MLS owner Arthur Blank has challenged supporters of his yet-to-be-named team to pledge to purchase 29,000 season tickets by year’s end.

Founder’s Club memberships — a group through which tickets can be secured — were going to be capped at 5,000 when Blank introduced the franchise earlier this year. Not only have almost all of the $50 memberships been sold, but those members have pledged to purchase almost 14,500 season tickets as of last week.

The team doesn’t even begin play until 2017.

Because the demand remains, Blank last week said the Founder’s Club membership will be expanded to 10,000 and he wants the potential new members to pledge to buy 11,000 more tickets before the end of the year. The total of 29,000 would sell out the lower bowl of the new stadium.

Should those pledges be converted to purchases, Atlanta could sell more tickets than any MLS expansion franchise.

Recommended for you

Recommended for you

Recommended for you

Most read

  1. 1 Court orders buoy Abrams as Georgia counties race to certify results
  2. 2 Police: Gwinnett man caught speeding, says he was testing parts
  3. 3 Live updating: Court ruling on Georgia absentee ballots due Wednesday

Seattle, considered the model franchise, sold a league-best 22,000 season tickets in 2009. Toronto sold 14,000 in 2007. Portland sold 12,500 in 2011. Philadelphia capped its season tickets at 12,000 and sold out in 2010.

Blank has said in the past that he’d love for some games to fill the 71,000 seats that comprise the lower and upper bowls of the stadium.

This is important

The Philadelphia Union and Bimbo, primarily known as a bread company, extended their shirt sponsorship last week for a reported five years at $2.3 million per year.

This deal may not seem like much money but it emphasizes why so many cities/owners are interested in MLS compared to the other leagues: the expenses are comparatively much lower.

The average investment on players is around $7 million for each team’s 30-man roster once designated players and Generation Adidas players are included this year. Some teams have payrolls that are twice as high.

This is not

U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard announced last week that he was going to take a break from international soccer.

Because air waves must be filled with something, “pundits” began to criticize U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann for several things, including listing some of the players (Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando) who will compete for the top spot (rather than letting the competition play out), and then they said Klinsmann is a hypocrite because he seems fine with Howard’s decision to stop for a while, and didn’t have the same reaction to Landon Donovan’s decision to take a sabbatical.

The situations are very, very different.

First, Donovan took his break as the team was trying to get itself together for World Cup qualifying. Donovan may have thought it necessary, but it came across as selfish, especially after the 32-year-old announced his retirement less than two years later. He now has all the time in the world to recharge his batteries.

Howard is taking his break after playing every minute for the team during the World Cup and will do so during a year in which there won’t be much going on of substance for the national team.

Second, Howard said he was fine fighting for his job when/if he does return.

Donovan didn’t seem to be fine with fighting for a spot on the U.S. roster, at one time admitting that he may not have been as sharp in others during the World Cup warm-up camp in which he was famously cut, and then later complaining about not being added to the team.

Lastly, goalkeepers aren’t field players. It’s easier to take out a goalkeeper and put him back in than it is to do with a midfielder/forward like Donovan.

Those may be some of the reasons that Klinsmann reacted differently to the two situations.

Jones to the Revs

Jermaine Jones’ trek to MLS finally wrapped up over the weekend with the news that he was coming to the league and that he will play for New England. The negotiations seemed to last from Jones’ brilliant performances for the U.S. in the World Cup until Sunday.

Chicago, in desperate need of a playmaker, seemed to be the front-runner until the league’s mysterious allocation process resulted in the Revs winning his rights.

One of the complaints fans have with MLS is – like NASCAR – the league seems to make up some rules as it goes along. Goal.com outlined all of the curious aspects Jones’ arrival here.

Atlanta’s team doesn’t have its president yet – the goal is still to make the hire within the next few weeks – but one of their important tasks will be to identify and sign Designated Players.

The process for allocating players needs to be clarified to guarantee the work put into research and negotiations goes for naught.

If you do this, send a photo

This fan took his love of this club to the limit.

MLS and Atlanta

How MLS players with ties to the metro Atlanta area did this week:

Joe Bendik, Toronto, GK, Kennesaw

Played 90 minutes and made one save in team’s 2-2 draw with Chicago on Saturday.

Next game: Will host New England on Saturday.

Mark Bloom, Toronto, D, Marietta

Played 90 minutes in team’s 2-2 draw with Chicago on Saturday.

Next game: Will host New England on Saturday.

Alex Caskey, D.C. United, M, Dunwoody

Played 90 minutes in team’s 1-0 win over Waterhouse in CCL action on Wednesday.

Played one minute in team’s 3-0 win over Sporting KC on Saturday.

Next game: At Los Angeles on Wednesday and will host New York on Sunday.

Ricardo Clark, Houston, M, Jonesboro

Played 90 minutes in team’s 3-0 loss to Columbus on Saturday.

Next game: At Sporting KC on Friday.

Warren Creavalle, Toronto, D, Acworth

Didn’t make the 18 for team’s 2-2 tie with Chicago on Saturday.

Next game: Will host New England on Saturday.

Sean Johnson, Chicago, GK, Snellville

Played 90 minutes and made one save in team’s 2-2 tie with Toronto on Saturday.

Next game: Will host FC Dallas on Saturday.

Alec Kann, Chicago, GK, Decatur

Did not make the 18 for team’s 2-2 tie with Toronto on Saturday.

Next game: Will host FC Dallas on Saturday.

Steven Kinney, Chicago, D, Norcross

Did not make the 18 for team’s 2-2 tie with Toronto on Saturday.

Next game: Will host FC Dallas on Saturday.

Chris Klute, Colorado, D, Silverbacks, Clayton State

Played 90 minutes in team’s 4-3 loss to Los Angeles on Wednesday .

Next game: At Seattle on Saturday.

Jack McInerney, Montreal, F, Alpharetta

Made the 18 but didn’t play in team’s 3-2 win over FAS in CCL action on Wednesday.

Next game: Will host Columbus on Saturday.

Joe Nasco, Colorado, G, Silverbacks

Made the 18 but didn’t play in team’s 4-3 loss to Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Next game: At Seattle on Saturday.

Michael Nwiloh, Chivas USA, D, Conyers

Didn’t make the 18 for team’s 1-0 loss to New England on Saturday.

Next game: Will host Los Angeles on Sunday.

Walker Zimmerman, Dallas, D, Lawrenceville

Didn’t make the 18 for team’s 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Friday.

Next game: At Chicago on Saturday.

More from AJC