Courtesy of Atlanta United FC
Who says Atlanta doesn’t have enthusiastic sports fans?
Atlanta United FC, the city’s new major league soccer team, had fans wrapped around the block outside the Tabernacle for the unveiling of its home uniforms (or “kit”) last night. Some were turned away from the sold-out event at the door. Four months before the official start of the season, and with just eight players on the roster so far, the club has already sold 22,000 tickets—the second most in the league, Atlanta United says.
Inside, there was much ado as a DJ and local personalities and officials like Mara Davis and mayor Kasim Reed pumped up the crowd for the reveal. Prompted by Reed, fans chanted “Uncle Arthur!” as owner Arthur Blank took the stage, and “Bocanegra!” for the team’s new technical director, Carlos Bocanegra. Atlanta’s star athletes, like Hawks center Dwight Howard and Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, lamented by video that they couldn’t be there.
Finally, three Atlanta United players (Atlanta native Andrew Carleton, Chris McCann, and Hector “Tito” Villalba) stepped out from behind more theatrical fog than a Gaga show, decked head to toe in their new red-and-black striped Adidas kit. In fact, ATL UTD will be just one of two MLS clubs to wear stripes, which the team says signifies its five pillars: unity, excellence, community, determination, and innovation. The black symbolizes strength and power, the “victory red” signifies pride and passion, and the gold (represented in Adidas’s signature three piping stripes on the shoulders and down the shorts, as well as the player’s name, number, a prominent nod to major sponsor American Family Insurance) stands for excellence.
Immediately following the unveil, fans were invited to the Tabernacle’s downstairs Cotton Club to purchase the kit for themselves—and it’s now available for purchase online as well as at the team’s shop at Atlantic Station. They don’t come cheap, ranging from $65 for a youth replica jersey to $150 for a men’s long-sleeve version. According to reps for the team, by the end of the night, they’d broken the record for kit sales for an MLS expansion club.