New professional sports teams launch in Atlanta

Let's welcome new pickleball, volleyball, and golf teams

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Atlanta Vibe
Atlanta Vibe player Leketor Member-Meneh (Outside Hitter)

Photograph courtesy of Atlanta Vibe

Not sure if you’ve ever tried launching a professional sports team before, but there’s a lot to it. Selecting logos. Setting schedules. Building hype. But apparently, Atlanta makes choosing a home city easy. In addition to the familiar big leagues, new pro teams are coming to the ATL.

The Atlanta Bouncers, Major League Pickleball’s only Deep South franchise outside Florida, got a boost when Hawks star Trae Young joined team owner Anheuser-Busch as an investor during the Bouncers’ first year of paddled pandemonium in 2023. They expect to make even more headlines in 2024.

“Georgia has always been important to our company,” says Matt Davis, VP of partnerships at Anheuser-Busch. “For pickleball, we’ve seen a large uptick in the South Atlantic, and the participation of the sport in the city, state, and surrounding region has been a huge reason we decided to plant a flag [in Atlanta] with the team.”

With fresh franchises, there’s also the matter of actually building a squad. For the Atlanta Vibe, a member of the all-new Pro Volleyball Federation (PVF), that was never a concern. From signing Leah Edmond, the first player in PVF history, to filling out its roster with accomplished stars like Morgan Hentz, all in one of America’s buzziest sports, the Vibe should have Duluth’s Gas South Arena rocking all winter and spring.

“I’m already accustomed to the fans and knowing how crazy SEC country is,” says Edmond, a four-time All-American at the University of Kentucky. “Getting to go back to fans that are used to watching me play is exciting. It’s just a perfect time to do it. Volleyball is on the up, and you’re adding a pro league right after the college season ends? That’s super exciting.”

Finally, Tomorrow’s Golf League (TGL), Tiger Woods’s and Rory McIlroy’s indoor team golf organization, had hoped to launch the Arthur Blank–helmed Atlanta Drive Golf Club this winter, but damage to TGL’s state-of-the-art arena in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, has forced postponement of the league’s debut until 2025.

The Vibe and Bouncers aim to be comfortably atop the standings and the hearts of area fans by then. “We want to win the championship,” says Colleen Durham Craig, the Vibe’s owner. “That’s what we’re building for. We’re hoping that folks get behind the team and the players. We know this is a new team. We know this is a new league. It takes a lot for folks to spread the word.”

This article appears in our February 2024 issue.

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