Sunday, June 6, 2010

Streetalk: Will soccer ever make it big in Atlanta?

Posted By on Sun, Jun 6, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Jason (1)
Jason: Where Atlanta struggles [with soccer] is professionally. The youth game here is huge. It’s one of the biggest cities in the country with youth soccer participation. It's taking that next step to support a professional team. There’s been a number of teams over the years that have come and gone for a ton of different reasons. Hopefully Arthur Blank is going to pull the trigger on bringing MLS [Major League Soccer] here. That would change soccer in Atlanta forever. It’s really up to Arthur Blank. MLS is very interested in bringing Atlanta in.

Sudhir:  Absolutely. We all grew up playing soccer in Dekalb County in high school. The key is to have a soccer specific stadium rather than playing the Georgia Dome or Bobby Dodd. That would help with attendance because the sight lines for soccer are different than for American football. What you see in Europe, you need to be up close. Building a stadium, not necessarily a behemoth but just seats 30,000 or 35,000, you feel like you're up close, would make a huge difference.  The target audience is in place. The facilities just need to be built.

Jason (2)
Jason: There’s potential but at a national level soccer has yet really to catch on. The more people are exposed to the sport, it will gradually improve. I'm a case in point. I just started watching soccer. Went to Germany and started to learn more about the sport. It's just about exposure. As Americans we like a lot of scoring, a lot of action in it, not this one or two goals. We always want to have scoring all the time. Soccer is a little bit different. In Atlanta it would help if we had a larger Latin population. A lot of successful [soccer] cities have a large Latin population.

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