Falcons release more new stadium images, including MLS seating chart rendering

Atlanta New Stadium

By FRANCO PANIZO

The expansion noise in Atlanta just will not die down.

A week after the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons released images of their new stadium that included one of a soccer field with the MLS logo clearly visible in the background, more pictures were dropped on Tuesday. This time, however, a rendering of the seating chart for MLS games was included and the capacity listed in that image is 31,085.

While that number comes as a result of the upper tiers of the now-$1.2 billion stadium being covered with tarps, it is still pretty high considering that the largest soccer-specific stadium in MLS, Red Bull Arena, holds approximately 25,000 fans.

Another bit of relevant news that came out regarding the Atlanta stadium that is set to open in 2017 is that the Falcons have reportedly decided that the playing surface will be turf and not grass. The debate of turf over grass is a popular one in MLS, with many people wanting to see turf fields abolished altogether in the league.

Atlanta has not been given an MLS expansion club, but the Georgia capital continues to be in the conversation for one along with fellow southeast cities Orlando and Miami.

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What do you make of the new Atlanta stadium’s seating chart rendering for MLS games? Is 31,000-plus too large of a number for a potential expansion club in the southeast? Disappointed to hear the Falcons chose turf over grass?

Share your thoughts below.

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92 Responses to Falcons release more new stadium images, including MLS seating chart rendering

  1. Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

    And let the whining begin in 3,2,1……

    ps. I love it. It really shows how much people look at MLS growth as THE opportunity.
    pss. Turf whines are ok, but come one we already know where we all stand on that one.

    • Horsewhistle says:

      Their renderings are showing grass. That’s misleading and I begin to wonder how many other items in the renderings are misrepresented, especially the geometry of the retractable roof. That looks like a future budget reducing item that will be removed or reduced without updated renderings and public input. I am okay with turf, but don’t spit on my back and tell me it’s raining.

      Additionally, it feels like an MLS franchise and the league is being manipulated as a way to create an additional funding source for an NFL stadium. The design does not reflect soccer/MLS as the priority and its order is somewhere in between NFL specific and stadium concert venue. Without any understanding of the local politics, this is still a stadium for an NFL owner who is using MLS as an additional future income source to finance his stadium deal. If I was an Atlanta soccer fan, I would not allow for funding of this or even its supporting infrastructure. We want to grow as a league but not as a crutch to NFL to stadium deals.

      On my own personal preference, I would like to start seeing US/Canada stadium seating with team/player seating in the stands terracing to the field levels such as in Euro stadiums like Stamford Bridge. I am not sure why we don’t see even removable versions of these in American stadiums.

      • Riggity says:

        Again, as an Atlanta soccer fan, I JUST WANT A TEAM

        • Steve says:

          You have one. The Silverbacks. Portland and Seattle had a big fan base before they joined MLS. You should support the Silverbacks and the eventual move to Pro/Rel, otherwise MLS will either a. keep growing into some mutant league that expands every time it needs an influx of cash or b. it’ll stop expanding and remained closed to teams that deserve to enter the top flight of american soccer.

          • Ryan says:

            Promotion and relegation won’t happen any time soon. Comes down to money. Leave it at that, or challenge me and get owned.

            • Steve says:

              I’ve heard all the lame excuses. If it can’t open to pro/rel why can it expand to 24 teams? Pro/rel would generate way more investment and local interest than a closed mediocre parity league.

              • bryan says:

                if i was a venture capitalist and someone asked me to invest in their product, i would need a lot more than their word that it would generate a larger ROI than another project.

                you provided no proof to back up anything you said. meanwhile, there is PLENTY to back up the notion that the current system has a much bigger ROI than pro/rel. if it was so perfect, NASL would be invested in over MLS.

              • bryan says:

                personally, i think ONE day it’s the right thing to do. but i 100% disagree MLS should go to pro/rel immediately…or even in the next 5 years.

          • Atlanta Soccer Junky says:

            I do support the Silverbacks, but their ownership has been trying to sell them for the last year and no one’s buying. There are rumors this may be their last year. I don’t have much confidence they will last, but I’ll stick with them as long as they do. As realist about Amerucan soccer, I assume they’ll shutdown once the Atlanta Revolution, I mean United, I mean Whitecaps gets going.

          • Baropbop says:

            It blows my mind that people want pro/reg. To think that any of the many mls teams that are already struggling to fill stadiums could survive relegation is absurd. Allocate the bottom teams money, help them purchase dps, give them draft picks, etc. the league should be lifting the bottom up not pushing it down.

            • SFTony says:

              Thank you. The NFL model has created the most powerful sports league in the world. You could argue EPL, but financial problems are pretty common there, whereas the weakest links in the NFL make money hand over foot. Continue down this road MLS.

            • McQ says:

              Giving them money will only make the problem worse, teams who know they can’t win will strive to be as mediocre as possible on a shoe string budget in order to pocket “support money” from the league and turn a profit for the owners.

          • MLSsnob says:

            I think we’re past the point of using NFL stadiums to house MLS teams. Any treatment of such, witht the exception on Seattle screams second class citizen.

        • Atlanta Soccer Junky says:

          We’re getting a team. It’s done. Now let’s start shaking things up over not having a SSS. Stop being so lazy. :)

      • Sean says:

        “Additionally it feels like an MLS franchise and the league is being manipulated as a way to create an additional funding source for an NFL stadium.”

        Ding, ding, ding, ding!!!!!

  2. dan says:

    what are the field dimensions for the soccer field?

    • RK says:

      It doesn’t say, but if you look at the two layouts, they move some of the seating around for MLS in the corners.

  3. RK says:

    Not happy about the turf, at all. I’m wondering what MLS thinks about it.

    • Atlanta Soccer Junky says:

      MLS thinks “$$$”.

      They just want to tell the networks the Southeast is covered while they negotiate the new TV contract .

  4. malkin says:

    Altogether’d

  5. Steve says:

    They can’t grow grass in Atlanta? So lame. Can the NFL please stay out of MLS and soccer in general. No we don’t want your crappy owners and stupid business model.

    • Joe says:

      Wait – how is the NFL a stupid business model? Please explain that one. Or are you just a pain who whines about everything?

      • Steve says:

        It’s a stupid model for soccer. We going to have 36 teams in one giant league and not promotion and relegation? The NFL only works because it’s couch potato friendly with a commercial break every 6 minutes.

        • Atlanta Soccer Junky says:

          When soccer fans are running the league, things will change. These people grew up watching NFL.

        • bryan says:

          get off pro/rel. jesus christ. seattle is a perfect example of how an NFL/MLS partnership is great. go watch this and tell me the business model isn’t good for soccer:

          link to businessweek.com

          if you think business model = TV production, you are way off. just like your thoughts that pro/rel is the only way to make soccer work.

          • MLSsnob says:

            And New England is a perfect example how an NFL and MLS partnership is a terrible idea.

            • Dirk McQuigley says:

              That wasn’t always the case w/ the Revs. They never had great attendance because they insist on having almost all night games even when it’s cold in the early part of the season and at the very end of it too. Why? Perhaps they want to draw all the youth soccer families and afternoon matches would conflict w/ youth soccer. The other problem w/ the Revs is that until this season, they had been fielding a terrible product for the four prior seasons. IMO, there was a time the Kraft family was interested in the team, but once they became the Buffalo Bills of the MLS, they sold off all their players and did nothing to improve the team. The team has been looking at some locations for a soccer specific stadium but interest from local communities has been tepid at best. Maybe w/ an up and coming playoff team will spur interest and they could move to a decent home. Foxboro is only semi accessible w/o a car. They have trains from South Station to the stadium but I don’t know how frequently they run or if they even have them on game days for anyone besides the Pats. The one small perk about Gillette is that Kraft built a shopping center Patriot Place and if you go to a game several hours early, you can park for free and pass the time eating at various restaurants or shopping. But you really need a car to get there. Traffic is much better on Rt. 1 than it was Pre-Gillette because the state improved the traffic flow, investing about $70 million, while the Krafts and the NFL paid for the stadium.

  6. SS says:

    I would hate to take a corner kick if the pitch is designed as in the image above. Seeing players trying to take a decent corner from tight pitches saddens me (e.g. SJ’s Buck Shaw, even though not a true MLS pitch…).

    Also, if Lambeau Field in WISCONSIN can have grass, don’t tell me Seattle or Atlanta can’t.

    • Joe says:

      I don’t think the problem is that they can’t grow grass… It’s that NO grass field would be suitable for playing soccer on when NFL games are also being played on it. The only way they could both play on grass would be if they were able to slide the field out of the stadium and slide a different one in, depending on which sport is being played. It’s very costly and requires a lot of space outside the facility that just isn’t there.

      It sucks. I live in Atlanta, want an MLS team, and don’t want a plastic pitch. But I understand why it isn’t feasible to have grass.

      • Steve says:

        It’s completely feasible as long as you don’t share with Throwball. Build a 28k SSS, then I’ll care.

      • RK says:

        Joe, it’s also because it’s a “multi-use” stadium — basketball, concerts, etc. Sure, it’s cheaper, but it’s fake.

        • Joe says:

          Correct. I never said I would want an Atlanta MLS team to play in this stadium. Just that I understand the stance taken by Blank/Falcons.

      • fischy says:

        Man, that field switchinglsliding thing sounds cool. Get on it.

        At RFK, when the Nationals came, they built the pitcher’s mound over an elevator, which was lowered for soccer games, allowing for a patch above. They could do this with the entire field….

        Worth it? Of course not. However, it would be a great place to host a semi-final World Cup match in 2026….

    • SFTony says:

      Buck Shaw has hosted a team for 5 years. What makes that not a true MLS pitch? And what about a tight corner saddens you? You know these guys don’t need a running start like an opening NFL kickoff, right? The best atmosphere at stadiums around the world go hand-in-hand with seats that are as close to the sidelines as possible.

  7. ZG says:

    Really unique renderings. I like the aesthetic of the top two decks tarped off (Vancouver-style), but I’m not convinced a team in Atlanta can even fill more than 3/4 of that sneakily big lower bowl. If they can, though, it looks as though a lot of the noise will be kept in. Turf is an issue, but one that won’t change, given precedent.

    Also, sorry to be nit-picky, but Red Bull Arena is not the largest soccer-specific stadium in America. Maybe if they hadn’t won the Supporters Shield I’d have given it to them, but they did — so, no, they can’t have that title. (LA is 27k)

    • ZG says:

      Also, shame better use won’t be made of Silverbacks Park given it’s so well-suited for future expansion. A lot of issues with that (principally, space and the fact that it’s nowhere near Blank’s plans), but it could make a splendid SSS with little added investment.

      • Joe says:

        Totally agree, not to mention that it’s much closer to where the Atlanta soccer fan base is located compared to this new stadium.

  8. byob el paso tx says:

    So orlando is in with sss n grass.
    Miami is almost in, but with what stadium plans, temporary field with future sss plans.
    Atlanta is teasing mls, but god, just get 2 million out of that budget n make a sss in atlanta.
    I read mls is very interested in san antonio.
    So if mls future owners want to be using nfl stadiums and bust a whitecaps stadium move, that equals less soccer fans. We need our urban sss, no whitecaps stadium design.
    So in that case, phoenix can have a team, indianapolis,new orleans, dallas with cowboys stadium,

    • TD says:

      I’m a Whitecaps STH and I really like the stadium. Do I wish we had grass? Yes. But in the PNW grass would not hold well in the Spring and Fall. Plus the stadium is shared with the BC Lions football team, so it would be a quagmire. It may be suboptimal, but it’s still pretty darn good. No coincidence that all of Cascadia uses plastic.

      I think it’s great that we’ve reached a point in this country where we are critical of a new stadium, that will be beautiful, potentially hosting soccer.

      One other thing I don’t get is why not play on grass until Sep? If the decision were up to the players, would they prefer to play on grass for 80% of the season or 0%. That would be an interesting survey.

  9. chowbox says:

    Turf really has to be the line we draw.

    NFL stadium? Okay if in a really great location
    Crappy sports town? Okay if we feel it’ll help the national footprint.

    But NFL turf genuinely changes the way the game is played and the (older) people who play it.

    Thin, hard NFL turf has no place in MLS
    Even if they try deeper, shaggier Jeld-Wen style turf they will eventually go back to thin hard NFL turf as soon as the Falcons get inconvenienced by it.

    • SFTony says:

      Have you been living under a rock? Thin, hard turf doesn’t even exist anymore. They all use field turf which is in fact very forgiving on the knees. The only real complaint one could have is that the ball is too bouncy when it bounces off the recycled tire bits that field turf is primarily composed of.

  10. Atlanta Soccer Junky says:

    I’m with the whiners on this one. Changing their mind about the grass pitch, because the neato stadium design doesn’t allow enough light, shows me what Blank thinks and or knows about having an MLS team. They will be an afterthought. Horrible news.

  11. Luke says:

    It seems the the MLS has become very popular with NFL owners lately, especially ones looking for a new publicly funded stadium. The Minnesota Vikings, who last year just got state approval for funding on a billion dollar stadium and also touted the idea of bringing in a MLS team to play in the new stadium. They even got the state of Minnesota to give the Vikings owners a 5 year exclusive right to any MLS team in Minnesota.

  12. AlexH says:

    I like the stadium because it has a retractable roof. Playing in 90 degree heat and 90% humidity due to the goofy MLS summer schedule detracts from the game far more than artificial surface. Unfortunately grass can’t be maintained in a retractable roof stadium even with the roof open as there is still too little sunlight. We should all be happy that people with the resources and political mojo to own billion dollar stadiums want to be involved in soccer.

    • Atlanta Soccer Junky says:

      No, it blows.

      • Atlanta Soccer Junky says:

        They either lied about the grass or they are so incompetent that they didn’t know their chosen stadium design wouldn’t support it. Either way, they are still going ahead with it. Not good at all.

        • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

          You wouldn’t be the first that were loed to about turf…Seattle was too. Voted on it, passed as a soccer stadium with grass…never saw the light of day…didn’t need to, it was fake.

    • Neal says:

      Is it true that grass can’t grow in retractable stadia?
      Several MLB are retractable and have grass

  13. JoelinKC says:

    I thought Garber said they were only looking at teams with a SSS for expansion?

  14. Travis says:

    Where is the guy who went off on my last week for just asking if the field was going to be turf or grass? It is going to be tough in general for a soccer team sharing a field to convince the football team to play on grass due to the sheer maintenance costs of it. I will be interested to see how this franchise works out, Atlanta is certainly a key market.

    • solles says:

      this is where MLS’ allowing seattle and vancouver to come in in NFL/CFL stadiums with fake grass has set a precedent that we are now stuck with. pretty soon MLS 1.0 NFL stadia will become cool again, and Robert Kraft is going to be hailed as visionairy because he sat on his thumbs for 18 years and did nothing to help the Revs get out of two different NFL stadiums in Foxboro.

      • bryan says:

        nah, Kraft only showed what not to do while Seattle has shown us what can happen when you actually care.

  15. MLSatlanta says:

    As a huge supporter of bringing a team to Atlanta, I am torn on the new stadium. I am very confident that Atlanta will be a successful MLS city whether we play in a SSS or the new falcons stadium. As Ives said in one of SBI show episodes, it’s all about the product. If Atlanta has a strong front office and puts together a good organization then filling up the stadium won’t be as hard as some people think.

    That being said, I’ve been to three USMNT games at sporting park in KC and I love that stadium. I feel like that style stadium is what any new or old MLS franchise should be trying to build as their home.

  16. slowleftarm says:

    MLS 1.0 stadium in the worst sports city in America. If this is really the best candidate, maybe it’s time to hold off on expansion for a bit.

    • chowbox says:

      “MLS 1.0 stadium in the worst sports city in America.”

      Did they beat out Miami in some kind of contest?

      • Slowleftarm says:

        That’s fair. It’s a tie.

        • Dirk McQuigley says:

          Miami is a better sports town. Yes, they are a fair weather fan base but at least Miami sports teams have a history of winning. Even the hapless Marlins have won more World Series’ than the Braves who have won their division something like 16 or 17 seasons out of the past 21 or 22. The Hawks? Ha ha. The Thrashers moved. The Falcons are choke artists. To quote the Grateful Dead about Atlanta. “Tell me this town ain’t got no heart.”

    • Cody says:

      Agreed. No need to force anything. I think SSS and grass are essential. If not doable, league should be patient.

  17. solles says:

    “the largest soccer-specific stadium in MLS, Red Bull Arena, holds approximately 25,000 fans.”

    erm no, its StubHub center, which holds 27000 fans.

  18. bryan says:

    my biggest issue is that it seems this will be closer to the Revs than Seattle. Sounders/Seahawks are different ownership groups when it really comes down to it. Paul Allen is the only owner for the Seahwaks while Seattle has him and the three other we all know. what they have done well though is integrate the business models effectively and efficiently. the report on businessweek.com gives a nice overview of it.

    when you look at the Revs, Kraft owns them both and that is a big red flag given the issues the Revs have had. i can only hope Blank will be smart about it.

    • jensph says:

      Also: location, location, location. The successful stadium is in the city, while the other is in the middle of nowhere.

      I haven’t seen where this proposed Atlanta stadium is located? Is it easily accessible via public transportation?

      • Atlanta SW says:

        Yes, the new stadium will be next to the current Georgia Dome / World Congress Center site. Next to two MARTA stops and easy access from Downtown / Midtown.

  19. inkedAG says:

    Soccer stadiums should ALWAYS have grass.

  20. Matt says:

    Too large, fans too far from the field, fake grass. All the same problems that this league has known about–and tried to avoid–for years.

    • bryan says:

      i have to say, at least going by the drawing and seating chart, they actually did a good job getting the fans nice and close for MLS games. still not sold on this though. i need to see a stronger ownership group. he’s worth less than Kraft and we all know how that has gone.

  21. bottlcaps says:

    Galaxy Styb Hub 27,000

  22. Krimsonyx says:

    I live in the South and welcome teams down here, but I’d hate to see them come in without a SSS. We see what is happening with New England. Soccer just doesn’t work in Football stadiums, unless your’re Seattle or to a lesser extent Vancouver. Atlanta needs a team, but MLS shouldn’t rush it.

  23. Brian says:

    At this point, MLS should make a grass pitch a requirement for a new MLS franchise.

  24. Larry says:

    turf over grass is a horrible trend in the NFL. It’s just not the same as watching a game on real grass

  25. Atlanta Soccer Junky says:

    Well. Since this NFL stadium is just gonna be a newer, shinier Georgia Dome, we might as well get the team up and running in the Dome while they are building this billion dollar rip off. How does 2015 sound? Turf is turf, let’s get this team up and running.

  26. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    If ownership is serious. Build an sss stadium.

    • Atlanta Soccer Junky says:

      What makes you think they are serious? Blank wants in on the MLS revenue sharing model that allows slack owners to make money regardless of how their teams do. MLS wants to have the Southeast covered for TV revenue. That’s probably as far as it goes. We’ll see if Blank is serious about running a good club, but it’s off to a bad start with them lying about a grass pitch.

  27. Joamiq says:

    Turf? Forget it. No longer a fan of this expansion.

    • K-Town says:

      +1000

      I WAS a big fan of the Atlanta expansion until I heard that 4 letter word. It’s the largest TV market without a team, helps expansion to the south, Blank is a great owner, and I LOVE the stadium look and don’t think the tarp thing is a bad thing.

      BUT, turf is a completed deal breaker for me. Perhaps it isn’t rational for me to feel this way, and yes Cascadia is doing great things for the league, BUT PLEASE, no more turf.

  28. McQ says:

    People can ponitificate about whining re: turf but the fact is the elite players don’t want to play on it and many won’t come to your team if you have it. It is not a coincidence that Thierry Henry comes down with a “nagging injury” every time the RedBulls play on the stuff. If you want the league to be taken seriously on an international level you have to discourage it.

  29. Grass over Turf says:

    Very Very disappointed about their decision on Turf. I guess they’re not aware of the new technologies that keep grass fields green & healthy (ex. Real Madrid’s San Bernabeu) link to constructionweekonline.com

    Or maybe they just refuse to spend money on something they feel is not of any relevance to their success.

    This is Bad Bad news, as others have pointed out elite players will refuse to play there. It certainly won’t help in the contract negotiations.

    MLS 2.0 is what this Atlanta team will be stuck at. I personally was really excited about this team but a grass field is so important to the sport of soccer.

    I strongly hope they reconsider and look at the vast majority of technologies out there that can keep the grass looking pristine. Even a hybird system would do wonders (ex.Desso GrassMaster) – link to youtube.com

    Very Depressed By This News :-(