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Atlanta United FC training fields may be built in DeKalb

Atlanta United FC may build its soccer training fields and facilities in DeKalb County, according to the team and the county. No final agreement was in place Friday.

A potential site for the team’s practice soccer fields and training facilities is near Interstate 285 and Memorial Drive, an area along the eastern perimeter of Metro Atlanta that the county has targeted for development of a “Downtown DeKalb” including a proposed government center.

The location is near two MARTA stations, and it’s a short drive from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The county budgeted $3 million to demolish buildings and clear the land this week. Additional incentives and details of a possible partnership between the county government and team weren’t immediately made public.

“We are currently in discussions with DeKalb County officials on a potential property for the training ground, but no definitive agreement is in place at this time,” said team spokeswoman Elena Cizmaric.

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Atlanta United FC will begin playing in 2017 in Atlanta’s new downtown stadium, which will be shared with the Atlanta Falcons. Arthur Blank owns both teams.

Team President Darren Eales has said he’d like to have 50 acres for training, with as many as 15 soccer fields that could be built for the team and for the community’s use. The training facility will need to be constructed no later than December 2016.

The DeKalb County site was competing among three locations that were under consideration for the training site. The others were in Marietta near Franklin Road and in Douglas County at the Foxhall resort.

More than 70,000 tickets were sold for the Gold Cup semifinals at the Georgia Dome. Mexico defeated Panama on Wednesday, and Jamaica beat the U.S. men’s national team. The final game will be played Sunday in Philadelphia, and the United States will play in the third-place game on Saturday.

Atlanta United FC used the event as a showcase for the future team, with a tent outside the Dome, a merchandise tent near the Vine City MARTA station, personal engagements with team executives, spots on local Spanish radio stations and digital billboards near the Dome and jumbotron advertisements during the game.

The plans for soccer facilities come at a time when there’s been much hustle and bustle on the local sports scene.

Though long considered a poor sports town, a new stadium for the Falcons is under construction in Atlanta; a ballpark for the Braves is being built just up the road from Turner Field in Cobb County; and the new owners of the Hawks recently made clear they are looking to upgrade their home court as well.

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