Atlanta United FC won’t enter MLS for another seven months, but the incoming expansion club has already sold more than 22,000 season tickets for the 2017 season.
Atlanta United president Darren Eales told MLSsoccer.com on Friday that the club has converted 22,000 of the 31,000 season ticket deposits the club received into full season tickets for their inaugural season. Eales said that the total would be the second most season tickets sold in MLS this year behind only the Seattle Sounders and that it was already a record for an MLS expansion team.
Eales said that the club is planning on opening up season ticket sales to the general public in the “near future.” Atlanta United reached the 22,000 mark despite not yet having hired a head coach and currently having seven players on their roster.
Atlanta United, who are owned by Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, will begin play next year at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. They’ll share the downtown Atlanta facility, which they are scheduled to open in the spring, with the Falcons.
“We’re all just really excited and thrilled to have gotten to that number so early on,” Eales said in a phone interview on Friday afternoon. “We still have over six months to go [until kickoff] and all those traditional things like a head coach announcement, jersey announcement, schedule coming out, the college draft, the expansion draft, all those and building the roster out as we’ve only got seven players at the moment. So to be there this early, it’s just uncharted territory for a Major League [Soccer] expansion team, so we’re just really excited to have reached that milestone.”
Eales said that 3,000 of the season tickets have been sold in the club’s supporters’ section. The supporters’ section will be located at the north end of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, underneath a large window that will look out towards downtown Atlanta. The sections in that area of the stadium have the steepest pitch in the stadium’s lower bowl and Eales said that the supporters’ areas will be general admission.
“That’s going to be like a traditional Kop feel,” said Eales, referencing the famed Kop end at English Premier League club Liverpool’s home stadium, Anfield. “I think it’s going to be great from a TV perspective as well when you’ve got the fans with their banners in those seats and you’ve got the city in the background.”
Eales added that the club has sold out eight of 10 club seat sections and that the team has converted its season ticket depositors into season ticket members using a sales team that currently consists of 11 people.
Eales, a former Tottenham and West Brom executive, also said that the club is considering opening up the upper deck for at least a few matches in their inaugural season. The Sounders, one of two other teams in MLS to share a stadium with an NFL team, have opened the entirety of CenturyLink Field up on several occasions each of the past few seasons.
Should Atlanta not open the full stadium for any games, they can use mechanized curtains to cover the upper bowl. When activated, the curtains will limit stadium capacity to about 29,000 while maintaining a more intimate feel than would be achieved by merely covering seats with tarps.
“At the moment our plan is to change that,” Eales said. “The way that sales are going, the fact that we have that many means that we can [open the full stadium] I think like Seattle, who open it up when they want to. It’s a lovely problem to have, but we’ve got a lot of time and who knows where we end up. The exciting for us at the moment is to have reached the level we have now, because no team’s sold so many so early. We’re excited to have that level of support so far and excited to see how far it could go.”