David Beckham and his partners should go spend some time in Atlanta and take copious notes because what’s happening there with Atlanta United is truly impressive – and could serve as inspiration for an MLS team in Miami.
The Atlanta expansion club on Saturday was set to break the league’s single-game attendance record with 69,256 tickets sold for its game against Orlando City. Read that again. Slowly. A crowd of at least 69,256 for a regular season MLS game.
The previous record was 69,255 for the Los Angeles Galaxy’s inaugural game at the Rose Bowl in 1996.
Atlanta United is playing at the new $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which the team shares with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, who play there Sunday.
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In the first United game there last Sunday, more than 45,000 showed up for Atlanta’s 3-0 victory over Dallas, and then on Wednesday they drew 42,500 for a 7-0 clobbering of nine-man New England Revolution.
The upper deck of the stadium was closed for those games, but opened on Saturday.
While the stadium was being built, Atlanta United played at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium and drew remarkably well there, too. The team is on pace to break the MLS record for average season attendance with 45,811 per game and six home matches to go at the bigger stadium. The Seattle Sounders currently hold the record with an average attendance of 44,247 in 2015.
If they can draw 45,000 per game in Atlanta, and break records with crowds of nearly 70,000 in the new stadium, surely Miami and the rest of soccer-crazed South Florida can make an MLS team work, right?
Beckham and his group continue to inch along in their quest to have a team in downtown Miami. League owners last month gave them a green light to proceed with the purchase of the final sliver of land on the Overtown stadium site. Once that is done, expected to be in the coming weeks, sources said Beckham and majority owner Todd Boehly will come to Miami to officially launch the team.
In the meantime, keep an eye on Atlanta.
MLS aids hurricane victims: As Houston continues to recover from Hurricane Harvey, MLS and the Dynamo and Houston Dash announced that they are donating at least $1 million to the American Red Cross Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
“On behalf of our ownership group and organization, we are proud to play a role in helping our community to recover from this devastating storm,” Dynamo and Dash majority owner Gabriel Brener said. “Our organization strongly believes in its responsibility to be a community leader in times of need. We are here to support people throughout the relief and recovery effort by initiating a number of efforts.”
Dynamo part-owner Oscar De La Hoya, the former boxing star, was also involved in the fundraising effort.
“Immediately after the storm made landfall, all of our thoughts turned to the people of Houston who were affected by it,” De La Hoya said. “As a club, Southeast Texas is our home, and so many of our club’s fans, friends and neighbors are in need of help. Our team has worked hard and will continue to work to provide support not just through financial resources but with effort, energy and initiative as we move forward together.”
Added MLS Commissioner Don Garber: “Hurricane Harvey has had a devastating effect on the city of Houston and has significantly impacted the lives of millions of people throughout the region. We thank Gabriel Brener, his partners and the entire MLS family for coming together to support the relief efforts.”
Cologne apologizes to Arsenal: Bundesliga club Cologne apologized to Arsenal for fan disturbances at Thursday night’s Europa League match at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.
Although only 3,000 tickets were made available to Cologne fans, more than 20,000 made the trek to London and tried every which way to get into the game, which Arsenal won 3-1. The match was delayed an hour while many Cologne fans inside and outside the stadium caused a raucous and set off fireworks.
“Although FC Koln is not responsible for the acts of these so-called disturbers, we ask our English hosts to accept our apology,” the German club said in a statement.
However, Cologne also criticized Arsenal for not allotting more tickets to the visiting team and for being “not adequately prepared” for the big match.
“FC Koln is proud that tens of thousands of ‘Colognians’ wanted to experience the first European match in 25 years and made their way to London.
“The overwhelming majority of our fans have represented the club, the city of Cologne, and German football happily and positively. Due to the enormous demand for tickets, it would have been sensible, not least for security reasons, to allow more than the allocated five percent of stadium capacity to the guest fans.
“Despite the tremendous experience of both the London security forces and Arsenal as a permanent partaker in European football, the organizers were unfortunately not adequately prepared for the task.”
NASL: Miami FC 16; Carolina 11; San Francisco, Edmonton, Puerto Rico 9.
MLS: East – Toronto 59; NYCFC 50; Chicago 45; Columbus 43; Atlanta 42. West – Vancouver, Portland 44; Seattle 43; Kansas City 41; Houston 38.
EPL: Manchester United, Manchester City 10; Chelsea 9; Watford 8; Tottenham, Huddersfield, Burnley, Liverpool, West Brom 7.
La Liga: Barcelona, Real Sociedad 9; Sevilla, Athletico Bilbao 7; Leganes, Eibar 6.
Serie A: Juventus, Napoli, Inter 9; Lazio, Torino 7
Bundesliga: Hannover 10; Dortmund, Hoffenheim 7; Leipzig, Schalke 6
Ligue I: PSG 15; Monaco, Bordeaux 12; Lyon 11; St. Etienne 10
On TV: Sunday – Juventus vs. Sassuolo (6:30 a.m., BeINSport), Chelsea vs. Arsenal (8:30 a.m., CNBC), Milan vs. Udinese (1 p.m., BeIN Sport), Manchester United vs. Everton (11 a.m., NBCSN), NY Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union (1 p.m., ESPN), Real Sociedad vs. Real Madrid (2:45 p.m., BeIN Sport),