Atlanta is a unique city where the “CNN Experience” is really tailgating there before a Falcons game. Where our most successful franchise (Atlanta Braves, Choptober!) can’t crack the top ten in attendance, and moved technically out of Atlanta for more attendance. The city where we don’t want to be fair weather fans, but we also don’t want to watch another choke. So when we first heard we were getting a soccer team, there were the typical Atlanta mixed reactions.
Atlanta is built on diversity. Within the city, there are people from every continent and you can get a crash course on many cultures without having to leave the city.
The city is also made up of transplants from all around the nation who relocate typically later in life and bring their original loyalties with them. Sure, Atlanta does not help convert fans choking away important games. Atlanta for most these people was never going to be more than possibly their second favorite team. Atlanta also has a large population who just aren’t fans of typical American sports.
All these factors have come together for Atlanta United. Such a large portion of Atlanta’s population is foreign born (8% as of 2010 and growing). A lot of people who moved from other cities weren’t big soccer fans, but more have started to watch with growing World Cup popularity. Arthur Blank hired the right people to bring the right players and buzz to the team. The marketing team has done fantastic getting word out and the stadium food pricing makes games affordable. Add on the team brought in players to compete right away, and it has gotten all those people, who didn’t have these legacy loyalties with older traditional American sports, to hop onto the Atlanta United wave.
Atlanta United will easily finish the year with 25% more fans per game than the 2nd place attendance team. The success was so good, they were forced to open the 3rd level for big games which was never in the plans. Atlanta set the attendance record the first game the stadium was big enough to accommodate them (the opening of Mercedez-Benz). Followed by several more records before maximizing the stadium.
Typically in Georgia the flags you’ll see on cars are UGA with the occasional Falcons on home Sunday. In a short period, it is more common to see Atlanta United flags than almost UGA in the Atlanta area. This is a city known as a “college town” for our love and support for our universities. Starting in 2017, this narrative is quickly changing to a “United City”. I don’t know if the fans can take another UGA or Falcons choke, and if United pulls off a championship, season tickets may become the most valuable in the city. Unite is what the city is doing, hoping we can witness our franchise truly Conquer.