Atlanta United will be looking to start the new decade with another attendance record, with the club announcing Thursday it will be opening up Mercedes-Benz Stadium to full capacity for six MLS matches during the 2020 season.
The Five Stripes' massive 71,000-seat venue will open up the upper deck and have all seats available for Atlanta's home matches against FC Cincinnati (March 7), the Philadelphia Union (June 20), the Seattle Sounders (July 12), New York City FC (Aug. 1), LAFC (Aug. 16) and Columbus Crew SC (Sept. 26).
Atlanta have led MLS in attendance in each of their three seasons since joining the league in 2017, breaking their own record in 2018 by averaging 53,002 tickets sold and distributed per league game and becoming the first club in MLS history to surpass one million fans. They couldn't quite top that in 2019, but still posted eye-popping totals, averaging 52,520 fans per league match for a total of 892,663 in 17 regular-season games. Seattle came in second last year with an average attendance of 40,247, with Cincinnati pulling in at third with an average of 27,336 in its first MLS season.
If they're going to make a run at setting a new mark in 2020, Atlanta will need to pack it to the brim for those full stadium matches, but history says they're plenty capable of doing so. Remarkably, the club owns the top nine highest-attended regular-season games in MLS history, topping the 70,000 mark on all of those occasions. The 72,548 they drew in their 3-0 win over the LA Galaxy in August of last year stands as the current single-match league record for the regular season, while the 73,019 that attended the 2-0 MLS Cup triumph over the Portland Timbers in 2018 is the highest-attended MLS match of all time.