The World's Game In The Heart of the Sun Belt

Atlanta second in World Cup venue poll

While Seattle is the clear fan favorite to play host to World Cup matches — should the event return to America in the next decade or so — a poll on the USA Bid Committee’s Web site reveals that Atlanta is in second place.

Of the top 10 vote-getting cities, only Dallas was a venue for the 1994 World Cup.

Georgia Soccer has raised $75,000 in a show of financial support that is one of many factors taken into consideration by the committee, which is expected this month to pare down its final list of cities to be submitted to FIFA for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

Here’s an argument from an Atlantan who says poor fan support for pro teams should rule Atlanta out as a World Cup host.

I think that rationale is all wet, and here’s why: Atlanta soccer fans haven’t been given much to cheer from a litany of badly-run franchises. I know, because I’ve covered most of them since 1995.

Some, like Johnny Imerman and Vincent Lu, ultimately left the old A-League Ruckus by the side of the road.

The various parties involved in the Silverbacks have been more committed, and have enjoyed some occasional success. But last summer, while more than 50,000 people gathered at the Georgia Dome not once, but twice, to watch soccer played there for the first time, the Silverbacks lay dormant.

The ongoing dispute involving the United Soccer Leagues doesn’t appear to be any closer to a resolution, and there’s the possibility that there won’t be pro men’s soccer in Atlanta again next summer.

I know some loyal Silverbacks fans who have spent a lot of money for tickets, T-shirts, souvenirs and road trips over the years and who ultimately have soured on the idea of ever spending another dime on that team if it is resurrected.

The bottom line is that for most of the last decade and a half — since the last World Cup — there hasn’t been a good enough product on the field that’s been worth anyone’s patronage.

You can’t blame the fans for any of that.

3 comments

1 Michael { 01.05.10 at 9:35 pm }

I totally agree in the commitment to a true professional mens franchise has not been there from the Ruckus to the Silverbacks. There are plenty of fans who would be more than happy to support the game at the professional level, but it must be done right and not halfway. The Silverbacks have never marketed the club properly and although they built a facility it was never complete. When you come to a game and parking is an issue or ticketing then those are first impressions that you cannot get back. Hopefully we will get an MLS franchise one of these days since this is a professional sports town as opposed to a minor league city.

2 Zach { 01.07.10 at 2:38 pm }

Good article. Thanks for the info.

3 Will { 02.09.10 at 8:17 pm }

I’ve always felt that there was an amatuer-ish cloud hovering over just about everything the Ruckus/Silverbacks ever did. They were quick to get fans hopes up with fancy artist renderings of a big stadium but then did nothing to address simple problems like bathrooms, concessions, and adequate parking lots. They loved to publicly proclaim their commitment while refusing to act on anything they did…they really were mismanaged on and off the field. I know that Atlanta will eventually be a great city for professional soccer but we haven’t been given the chance which consists of a serious ownership group.

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