Expansion side Atlanta United have sold more than 27,000 season tickets for their inaugural season, club president Darren Eales told MLSsoccer.com in phone interview on Friday.
"To get to that number with five weeks still to go before the first game, it's incredible, really," he said.
Atlanta announced last year that they had surpassed 22,000 season tickets breaking a record for expansion teams that was previously held by the 2009 Seattle Sounders. Through progress has slowed considerably since then, Eales said the club remains well ahead of their initial expectations for season ticket sales.
"No one would’ve projected record season tickets when Atlanta came in. Everyone’s view was that it was a fickle sports market and soccer wouldn’t work in Atlanta," he said. "But it’s already been 5,000 higher than any other [expansion] team’s done. And usually, if you look at the history of clubs and talk to them, this is when most of the excitement gets generated out to that wider audience beyond the avid soccer fan, as we get nearer to the first game of the season."
The new club will be playing games in two different stadia this season. It will open the season March 5 against the New York Red Bulls at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium, and play its first eight home games there before moving into the brand-new Mercedes Benz Stadium, which it will share with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons. United's first game in the new stadium will be July 30 against Orlando City SC.
Eales said capacity for most games in both Bobby Dodd and Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be 40,000. Drapes will be used to cover the upper bowl at the new facility. There will likely be games where demand is such that tickets will be sold in the upper bowl, he said.
Eales also said that the club have sold 3,500 tickets in their supporters' section, which will be located behind a goal in both of Atlanta's 2017 home stadiums. Capacity in the supporters' section will be capped at 5,000.
The number of season tickets sold puts the new club, which enters MLS this season along with expansion partners Minnesota United, into second place in ticket sales in the 22-team league, behind 2016 MLS Cup champions and perennial attendance leaders Seattle. In 2016, average attendance among MLS's 20 teams was 21,692. Eales said Atlanta United will likely cap season ticket sales at 30,000. Once that happens, the club will sell partial ticket plans, he said.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, both of the reserve sections have been sold out, 14 of 16 club options have been sold and overall, 22 of the 36 sections in the lower bowl have been sold out.