Atlanta United FC has emerged as one of the most intriguing success stories of the 2017 MLS season. Helping to fuel that success is the team’s fan base, which has quickly developed a reputation for its high level of enthusiasm and support.
Games at Bobby Dodd Stadium have been a major draw this season. Through seven home matches, Atlanta has outpaced the league with a per-game average of 46,698, and attracted a total of 326,884 fans.
This has been an achievement for the expansion franchise on several fronts as United is not only exceeding expectations on the attendance side, but is finding that the crowds help to create a home-field advantage. United is 5-2 at home this season, and has won each of its last four matches at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Along with the way, fans have developed supporter groups and in-game chants to create a unique atmosphere. The support from the fans, according to the organization, has organically generated a distinct home-field advantage at Bobby Dodd Stadium. More from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
The team’s director of marketing and fan engagement, Sarah Kate Noftsinger, takes pride in the fact that it isn’t her department that creates the game-day mood. Like most passion, it either burns naturally or it doesn’t. You can’t force it. No amount of blaring music or overbearing announcing is going to make you care, so Atlanta United doesn’t traffic in such trifles.
With the fans themselves doing much of the heavy lifting in the ambience department, they have provided an authenticity to the experience that has played very well through the first half of the first season.
“People used say, ‘Ah, you don’t know what it’s like, you got to go experience a match in Europe. Or you need to go to South America to experience a match,’” Noftsinger said. “The reality is we actually have the experience here, in Atlanta. You don’t have to go overseas. It’s something this city has embraced.
“I wouldn’t say it’s an anomaly by any means,” she said. “It’s all about participating in something as opposed to manufacturing something.”
Bobby Dodd Stadium is being used by United as a temporary venue until its permanent home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, opens later this year. The team’s first game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is not scheduled to take place until September, so it remains to be seen how the fan base will respond to the new facility. In the meantime, however, the passion for soccer is certainly brewing in Atlanta, which should give United some momentum as its scheduled September 10 debut at Mercedes-Benz Stadium approaches.
Image courtesy Atlanta Untied FC.