Seventy Thousand Large in ATL with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Doug Roberson

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This article originally appeared in the September 22nd issue of our newsletter, The Raven. Subscribe HERE.


Doug Writes: I grew up in metro Atlanta in the small town of Mableton. My parents’ first date was at an Atlanta Chiefs game. My love of soccer seems to be in my blood.

As I grew up and started playing soccer, my parents would take me to a few of the Chiefs games where there were usually just a few thousand people in the stands. So, as I walked to Mercedes-Benz Stadium last Saturday, I stopped outside the $1.5 billion palace to appreciate the fact that an MLS-record crowd of more than 70,000 were going to be there to watch Atlanta United play Orlando City.

Seventy thousand.

When the news started to percolate a few years ago that Atlanta might become the home of an MLS team, I never thought I’d cover a game between two club teams that would sell more than 70,000 tickets. The atmosphere was the loudest I’ve ever experienced in 25 years of journalism, topping the skull-cracking noise generated by fans for a game between Mexico and Nigeria at the Georgia Dome. The chant of “Atlanta” from half the crowd, most wearing the red-and-black team jersey, answered by “United” from the other half could be felt in your bones. Even league commissioner Don Garber said he recorded video of the “A-T-L” Viking clap.

At some point, the new-stadium glow may wane. At some point, the team may not wow as often as it does now. But the fun now is real. And I’m having as much fun covering the team as I did watching the Chiefs as a little boy.

In addition to being a GFOP of the highest-order, Doug Roberson is a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. You can follow him on Twitter @DougRobersonAJC, on Facebook at Atlanta United News Now, and subscribe to his Southern Fried Soccer podcast on iTunes.