MARIETTA, Ga. – On Tuesday Atlanta United officially unveiled the club's state-of-the-art Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground, marking the latest milestone for the MLS expansion club.
The $60 million, 30,000 square foot training facility includes six full-sized fields, a dining room, pavilion and an open-air weight room. Fourteen elevated windows allow natural light to illuminate much of the inside of the main building.
“Getting the team out there, the kit, they’re all things that are important. But, this is going to be our home and this is where we’re going to create those Atlanta United players of the future and embed our culture in what we’re looking for, which is a world-class team at the end of the day,” club president, Darren Eales, said.
For Atlanta United owner, Arthur Blank (photo, below), the training ground sits atop of everything he’s been able to accomplish with the club so far.
“To see the vision of this building come to fruition and see these young men out on the pitch today practicing and knowing this’ll be their home, home of our academy team and see them develop as young men and, in the future, be playing for us is unbelievable,” Blank said.
“The soccer-specific things we did here are very, very unique. I think they speak volumes of Darren’s [Eales] experiences, Carlos’ [Bocanegra, technical director] experience, Paul’s [McDonough, director of soccer operations] experience, the whole roster’s experience,” Blank added.
The design of the building didn’t specifically come from the architects themselves, but rather the users. Created to foster openness and an aspirational environment, the facility faces the fields so that academy players, front office employees and first team players can feel connected and focused on the club.
The first-team locker room is an oval-shaped room with no corners to promote unity, and the academy locker rooms are built in much the same way. The hope from Atlanta United is that by allowing academy players to train, eat and work out in the same facility as the first team, younger players will be motivated to continue their progress as Atlanta United players.
The complex also includes two in-ground hydrotherapy pools, a full-service kitchen and a tactics and media room.
“The facility is amazing. It’s the best facility I’ve ever trained at. As a professional player, you just want your club to give you an opportunity to succeed and this facility goes beyond that,” Atlanta United captain, Michael Parkhurst, said after Tuesday training.
“There’s everything you need in order to have success as a professional player, and even for the academy as well. These young kids don’t know how lucky they are and how good they have it because this is a special place.”
One of the six fields on the ground will act as a show pitch with the ability to seat 2,500 fans in stands that are colored red and black to represent the club’s five-stripe pattern on the home jerseys and crest. This field will primarily be used for first team and academy matches in addition to visiting national and international clubs, open training sessions, community matches and clinics.
“This is a world-class facility. This could be picked up and plopped in Spain or Italy or England and hold its own. It’s setting the bar high for our clubs and it’s a credit to Arthur [Blank] and his organization,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said (photo above).
“It makes you want to come to work every day," star forward Tito Villalba said. "For myself and all the players, it fills us with joy being able to train here. Hopefully at the end of the year we’ll have fulfilled some big goals ... We have everything we need. There are no excuses.”