Let’s be honest. 2,600+ Atlanta United fans didn’t pile into the Tabernacle because they were curious about what the inaugural home kit was going to look like. I mean, we’ve pretty much known for months now, right?
We did not congregate to speculate, we did it to celebrate. It was a celebration eight years in the making, when Arthur Blank’s AMB Group first submitted a bid for an expansion franchise in 2008. It took six long years to make it official, but on April 16th, 2014, a city’s dreams were finally a reality. Last night wasn’t just a kit launch, it was a block party that everyone in attendance will likely never forget.
The excitement was obvious as soon as one caught a glimpse of the Tabernacle. A mob of people surrounded the building an hour before the doors opened in anticipation. The line stretched around the entire block and past the entrance again. Almost everyone was decked out in their Atlanta United gear, giving off a community atmosphere. It was quite a sight, a moment that reminded you this was all real. An MLS team is going to be in Atlanta, and people are excited about it.
When the doors finally opened, the crowd walked onto an incredibly festive dance floor with music blasting throughout the entire concert hall. Something that really emphasized the significance of the event was a video compilation that played beforehand showing key moments in the club’s young history, including the logo unveiling, the signing of our first ever player in Alex Tambakis and the hiring of Tata Martino.
The event itself began with technical director Carlos Bocanegra talking up the kit, followed by notable members of the Atlanta media, mayor Kasim Reed, president Darren Eales, the CEO of American Family Insurance, and owner Arthur Blank who received a raucous ovation.
UNCLE ARTHUR pic.twitter.com/Y9iCySw0Zy— Dirty South Soccer (@DirtySouthSoc) November 16, 2016
It was really nice to see the crowd pay respect to a man that was the driving force behind bringing an MLS club to Atlanta. The atmosphere was electric, with chants of “A-T-L” popping up throughout the night.
A special shout-out goes to the supporters groups who started every cheer. They took the lead on praising the club, as they should. If this is what we can expect on matchday, we’ll be just fine.
Finally, the kit unveil began. It can be summed up with one word: Epic.
The lights dimmed. As soon as the hype video was done, three shadowy figures emerged from center stage. Then, this happened.
Welcome to ATL pic.twitter.com/JGL5oe0LLS— Dirty South Soccer (@DirtySouthSoc) November 16, 2016
Everyone eagerly waited for the mist to clear, and there they were. Atlanta United players Tito Villalba, Chris McCann and Andrew Carleton stood on stage sporting the first ever Atlanta United home kit. The crowd went nuts.
Once each player talked about their love for the kit, every person in the building flocked to where they were being sold.
Bravo to Atlanta United for making this production possible. It really wasn’t about the kits, and that’s a good thing. It was another opportunity to bring Atlanta United FC together as a fanbase in a manner that was mesmerizing at times, something Darren Eales and Arthur Blank have preached since the club was announced. It’s amazing Atlanta United is finally at this point.
Before we know it, Bobby Dodd Stadium will be packed with Atlanta United fans ready to do the same thing they did last night: Celebrate.