Wednesday, July 23, 2014

HBO releases second Falcons 'Hard Knocks' trailer

Posted By on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 12:17 PM

HBO just released their second promotional trailer for "Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Atlanta Falcons." Fifteen seconds shorter than its predecessor, the clip features Matt Ryan and text that reads, "The time to rise up is now." Whether or not appearing on HBO's popular sports series is a good thing for the Atlanta Falcons is a topic of debate, but, doubts aside, with a mix of personalities like Roddy White and D-Block there's sure to be plenty of entertainment. Oh, and some sports.

"Hard Knocks" premieres Tues., Aug. 5, at 10 p.m.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Boon or bust? Atlanta Falcons bet on 'Hard Knocks'

Posted By on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 12:50 PM

When the Atlanta Falcons start training camp in two weeks, following last season's 4-12 finish, they may have more to focus on than learning new plays. For the first time, the HBO show "Hard Knocks" will document the team's behind-the-scenes practices at Flowery Branch.

The first official trailer of the show's upcoming season, which starts Tues., Aug. 5, dropped a few days ago. But if the prospect of HBO's birds-eye-view excites you, it may mean you're a bigger fan of "Hard Knocks" than the Dirty Birds themselves.

AJC sports writer Jeff Schultz suggested as much in a column following the announcement that the Falcons would be featured on the show this season after turning it down such a request in 2009. In his estimation, the decision puts the business of branding ahead of the team's betterment.

Schultz even gave Arthur Blank a Home Depot analogy just to make it plain:

Let me put this in terms owner Arthur Blank can understand: “You just mandated that the sheet rock salesmen at Home Depot ride around the store on unicycles while juggling — all in the hopes it would stimulate sales of Home Depot painter hats.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Two World Cup viewing parties to be held at Piedmont Park

Posted By on Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 4:41 PM

Looking for a place to watch tomorrow's World Cup game between the United States and Belgium? Piedmont Park will offer two options.

Terminus Legion, the grassroots fan group that helped push for a Major League Soccer team in Atlanta, and Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall have organized a party on the lawn area outside Park Tavern. A big screen will broadcast the game. According to the Facebook event page, the fun starts at 3 p.m. near 10th Street and Monroe Drive.

On the other side of the greenspace, Mayor Kasim Reed is hosting a free viewing party at Greystone, one of Piedmont Park's event spaces. Screens will be located throughout the venue, the city says. That shindig, which will include some refreshments and a cash bar, kicks off at 4 p.m. The address is 1491 Piedmont Ave.

Know of other viewing parties? Post 'em in the comments.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Pac-Man returns! Hawks redesign old logo

Posted By on Thu, May 1, 2014 at 2:52 PM

  • Courtesy Atlanta Hawks

Just in time for their Game 6 matchup with the Indiana Pacers tonight, the Atlanta Hawks have unveiled a new (old) secondary logo. From 1972-1995, the Hawks logo featured a side profile of the bird of prey, which ultimately drew comparisons to the title character of the popular Pac-Man video game.

Since 1995, there have been a couple of changes to the uniform. A switch was made from Pac-Man-Hawk to a Hawk clutching a basketball (think the Dikemebe Mutombo's finger-shaking antics and Mookie Blaylock being Mookie Blaylock). The most noticeable change, however, came with a new color scheme in 2007 (yea, the Josh Smith and Mike Woodson days) of navy, red, and white and the use of "ATL" being featured more prominently on the front of the jersey. The new logo embraces the current fan base's thirst for the glory days of Dominique Wilkins.

In fact, the Hawks will let the fans get a taste of the Pac tonight with free t-shirts (pictured below) to promote their #PacIsBack campaign. If the 8th-seeded Hawks can upset the top-seeded Pacers tonight, they will become the worst team to advance in the playoffs since the format was expanded to 16 teams. Pre-sale orders for the new gear goes on sale soon.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fans will help pick MLS team's name, so let's keep this clean, OK people?

Posted By on Thu, Apr 17, 2014 at 3:17 PM

There's no name. No logo. We might have some colors. But there is, by God, a team.

Yesterday afternoon, in an event space overlooking Downtown and the not-long-for-this-world Georgia Dome, Atlanta was officially named the home of Major League Soccer's 22nd expansion team. Arthur Blank, flanked by Mayor Kasim Reed, MLS Commissioner Don Garber, and chant-happy grassroots fan group Terminus Legion, said the city and metro region are ready for a professional soccer squad. And that he was willing to pay between $70 million and $100 million to own the team. The team will kick off in 2017 in the proposed stadium that the Home Depot co-founder's Atlanta Falcons will call home - provided court challenges and construction issues don't delay its opening.

Blank told the crowd gathered at Ventanas that the $1.2 billion football facility will feature technology that will create a game-day environment conducive to football and soccer games. The lower bowl seats will retract to allow for a wide field and upper-level seats will be covered. Plus, he promised that he'd make sure fans would never see NFL lines on the field during a MLS game.

Here's a simulation of what the stadium could look like during games, courtesy of the MLS Atlanta 2017 YouTube account:

He also told CL that the team wouldn't be an afterthought to the Falcons. The organization would have its own staff, offices, and facilities - they'd be separate entities. No people would serve in dual roles.

Atlanta is the MLS' third expansion team in the Southeast in recent years and perhaps its largest untapped TV market. Garber said Atlanta was representative of what he considers the "New America" - a demographic that's young, diverse, connected, and makes up a large chunk of MLS' fan base. As Maria Saporta noted, Garber said the proposed stadium also played a role, as the league's had greater success with similarly located facilities in other cities. Reed also noted metro Atlanta's claim to having the second-fastest growing foreign-born population in the country and its strong youth soccer programs.

Many questions remain. How much will tickets cost (you can sign up for them here)? Will Atlanta's fickle sports fans show up for soccer games? And what happens to the Atlanta Silverbacks? It's still unclear if the city's existing professional team that's survived since the mid-1990s, will play any role. Neal Malone, the team's marketing director, told me before the announcement that the two organizations have already had brief talks and the Silverbacks are "confident we can work together in some capacity to grow soccer in Atlanta." Blank also told us they've had talks about working together. Neither side, however, knows what that relationship might look like. Malone imagines, "under the right circumstances that the market could support two teams."

The Silverbacks could enjoy a bump in excitement in the three years between now and kickoff, time that Blank says the organization will spend working to boost the fanbase and building a team. He said he has no personal bias as to what the team will be named. All decisions about the team's image - its logo, mascot, color scheme, etc. - will be decided largely by the fans.

"My family asks me, 'What's the [team] name?'" he said. "Ask the fans."

After the jump, photos by Dustin Chambers of yesterday's announcement

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Monday, April 14, 2014

'Major announcement' planned that just happens to feature Major League Soccer commissioner, Arthur Blank, mayor

Posted By on Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 1:18 PM

On Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Kasim Reed and Arthur Blank will join Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber in Downtown to make a "major announcement" on the "future of soccer in Atlanta." Also in attendance: Frank Poe, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority's executive director. Alexi Lalas, the former U.S. Men's National team player, last week was also cryptically tweeting that he'd be in town and possibly bumping into the Atlanta Falcons owner.

It's safe to say that Atlanta is getting a Major League Soccer team. Or getting handed an oversized check to buy soccer balls for a rec center. Fingers crossed!

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Braves' fireworks show goes horribly wrong, sets American flag ablaze at home opener

Posted By on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 2:27 PM

Things didn't go exactly as planned during the Atlanta Braves' home opener. After honoring former home run champion Hank Aaron before last night's game, the Mets proceeded to shut out the Braves 4-0. They then somehow managed to light an American flag on fire with a misguided fireworks show.

According to 11 Alive, the ball club's pregame pryotechnics caused the U.S. flag atop the Ted's scoreboard to go up in smoke. They shared the following photo:

"We tried pyrotechnics from a new location last night (on top of BravesVision) and one went awry burning holes in the flag," Braves spokeswoman Beth Marshall tells CL. "[The] flag is made of flame retardant material so it didn't catch fire, but [it] did burn holes."

The Braves have replaced the American flag and will stop using pyrotechnics in that part of the stadium. Carry on!

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Atlanta likely selected to get new MLS expansion team

Posted By on Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Team would play in Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blanks proposed $1.2. billion stadium
  • Joeff Davis/CL File
  • Team would play in Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank's proposed $1.2. billion stadium
Atlanta's dream of having a Major League Soccer franchise could finally become a reality this month.

Over the weekend, multiple outlets have reported that MLS has selected Atlanta to be the home of its newest expansion team. If true, the city's team would be one of four squads the league hopes to launch before 2020.

Atlanta would become the home of the 22nd MLS franchise should the deal happen. The potential decision from league officials follows months of growing speculation about the city's ability to land a new franchise. Plans for Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank's proposed $1.2 billion stadium include space to build an office for a future soccer team. Last month, MLS commissioner Don Garber said Atlanta's fan base "exceeded our expectations" following a friendly match between Mexico and Nigeria in the Georgia Dome that was attended by more than 68,000 fans.

When asked about this weekend's reports, a MLS spokesperson declined to confirm the news in a statement, saying that: "We are continuing discussions with Arthur Blank to bring a Major League Soccer expansion team to Atlanta; however, we have not finalized an agreement at this time."

According to Saporta Report, Blank last Wednesday told a group of Oglethorpe University faculty and students that "we are not too far away from a linkage with Major League Soccer."

"We looked at the sport seven years ago. It was an emerging league, only 20 years old. Half the teams were owned by two people," Blank continued. "The league has made tremendous progress since then. The opportunity for us in our new stadium is tremendous. It was uniquely designed to accommodate professional soccer."

An official announcement regarding Atlanta's newest professional sports club could happen on April 16. Blank spokesperson Kim Shreckengost tells CL that a final agreement has yet to be reached, but that officials "hope to complete the agreement soon, at which time we will make a formal announcement" about the MLS franchise.

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Arthur Blank still having 'substantial' talks to bring pro soccer club to Atlanta

Posted By on Thu, Mar 6, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Atlanta's professional soccer dreams are still alive and well, Arthur Blanks says.

Over the past year, the Home Depot co-founder and Atlanta Falcons owner has had lengthy talks with Major League Soccer officials about potentially bringing one of four planned expansion teams to the city sometime between 2015 and 2020.

It's been a while since Blank, whose proposed Falcons stadium plans include administrative offices for a professional soccer team, publicly commented on the prospects of an Atlanta soccer club. But Blank gave a brief update to veteran Atlanta reporter Maria Saporta on how the talks are going:

"You look at the crowd, and you see the spirit that's here," Blank said during a 10-minute sit-down interview in his suite during the game. "It is a great tribute to Atlanta and the appetite that Atlanta has for soccer at the highest level.

Asked about the status of his talks with MLS to buy an expansion team, Blank said: "I would say they are substantial."

Is a deal about to be announced?

"All I will say is that the talks are substantial," Blank said. "They have an interest in Atlanta. They love Atlanta, and we obviously know Atlanta. We are building a world-class sports facility for professional soccer. If you look at their map, there's a huge hole in the Southeast, and Atlanta is the hub of the Southeast."

MLS Commissioner Don Garber sounded pleased at the turnout for this week's friendly matchup between Mexico and Nigeria, which drew more than 68,000 fans to the Georgia Dome, and said that these kinds of events help MLS make decisions about where to expand the league. When asked about Atlanta, he replied:

"This has exceeded our expectations," Garber said. "It has exceeded the expectations of the Mexican Federation. This is a bold statement of support for high-level soccer in the Southeast.

"The sport continues to show signs of real growth. This will represent an opportunity for all of us who want to see MLS come to Atlanta."

The expected price tag for an MLS expansion team is estimated between $70 million and $100 million, Saporta says based on other recent transactions.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Goodbye Atlanta Braves, Hello Atlanta Surge?

Posted By on Tue, Mar 4, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Turner Field, home of the ... Atlanta Surge?
If one man gets his way, Turner Field won't get razed in 2017 after the Atlanta Braves move up to its new Cobb County stadium. Instead, a brand new baseball team - known as, wait for it ... the Atlanta Surge - would replace the longtime professional baseball club at the Ted.

The idea for the Surge comes from veteran Atlanta ad exec Mike McDonald, a self-proclaimed lifelong baseball fan, who wants to bring a second Major League Baseball team to metro Atlanta. And he wants the Surge's slogan to be the following: "Let's Turner Lemon into Lemonade!"

The AJC's Tim Tucker, who first reported on the proposal last night, writes from behind the AJC's paywall:

He has presented the idea to some local politicos and business folks. He has talked to lawyers about how to challenge MLB. He even wrote a letter to the Tampa Bay Rays, asking if they'd be interested in relocating. The Rays haven't responded and McDonald has decided he'd prefer the fresh start of an expansion team.


McDonald already has a name in mind for the AL team he seeks: the Atlanta Surge, drawn from the city motto Resurgens (Latin for rising again). He envisions the city and county receiving an equity stake in the team in return for use of the venue, and an investor group operating the team with him. He says MLB should waive an expansion fee as a way to settle the damages of the Braves leaving the city limits.

He expects people to "take shots" at his plan and says that is fine.

McDonald believes that Atlanta and Fulton County are "owed" a team for their longstanding financial and emotional investments into the Braves' franchise. But it's unlikely the region will land another ball club. There's not enough demand, according to one expert. Plus, the Braves have exclusive rights from MLB for all home games played in most of the metro region - which could be problematic.

The Atlanta Braves declined to comment on the prospects of the Surge. But at least Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts said the proposal was "a magnificent idea." That's a start!

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