I don't know about you but going to a HOME Atlanta United game is like nothing else in this city.
You see, the thing is, when people move to Atlanta from other cities they bring with them their pride for their teams, whether it is football, basketball, baseball, or hockey, most don't come with an MLS soccer team.
For years here in the A we have been fighting the good fight to make soccer a bigger sport and with the help of good ole Uncle Arthur we were able to do that. Now we have a number one team, number one athletes, and a state of the art venue to play in. But all of this just isn't about the game, it's about what he did for Atlanta with bringing the game into the spotlight.
He has created one AMAZING community.
You can walk down the streets of Atlanta on any given day wearing your United gear and BOOM you are talking with a group of people who were at the game this past weekend and have a new group of people to go to the game with. Or say it is your first game and you aren't really sure about how things work at such a large place, one the staff at Mercedes is BEYOND helpful but so are all of the other people there.
The people you sit next to will talk with you, laugh with you, and yell all game long with you at the shitty calls the ref does or doesn't make.
Arthur also created opportunities for people. Not only with the jobs with the team and the new stadium but with children. I can remember growing up in the city where soccer wasn't such a big thing. There were a few good soccer associations out there but nothing of the stature that there is now. We have young kids playing all over the world now because of what Arthur has done for us.
The kids who played pick-up soccer at the park now have something to dream about, becoming an Atlanta United player. Sure, the most press does go to the MLS team, but we have a group of players training every day to come up into the big leagues with these boys any day now. In fact, we have 6 homegrown/Atlanta native players on our team right now: George Bello: 16, Andrew Carlton: 18, Chris Goslin: 18, Alec Kann: 28, Lagos Kunga: 19, Patrick Okonkwo: 20.
Above all, the man has single-handedly, brought an ASTRONOMICAL amount of love for the game to our city! Before you could go to a bar on any given day where a soccer game would be on and you would see a few people interested in it unless it was some huge game like the World Cup or the Olympics.
Now when you walk into a bar on match day for Atlanta United, whether they are playing at home or away, the game is on the big screens, you see red and black everywhere, and you can hear the cheering from a mile away.
People who knew nothing about soccer two years ago, wear their five stripes and hang their flags high. People who knew nothing about the game two years ago, now hold season tickets and take whoever they can to every home game. People who know nothing about soccer two years ago, love Atlanta United. So, from the bottom of Atlanta's heart, thank you Arthur Blank, for bringing us more than just the beautiful game of soccer.