Well, it’s official. Atlanta United named Fifth/Third Bank Stadium as the host site of their first ever U.S. Open Cup match. Located in the city of Kennesaw, roughly a 25-minute drive from Atlanta, FTBS has a capacity of 10,400.
Much has been made of this news by fans, both positive and negative outlooks. To be completely truthful, I have a personal bias of positivity as the Operations Lead of FTBS. If you’re looking to read up on why this was a terrible decision by Atlanta United, you won’t find any ammo here. However, for those who are excited and intrigued by the choice, here’s why FTBS is perfectly suited to host this historic event and what the key selling points were for Atlanta United to head to Kennesaw.
The stadium has a rich and recent soccer history, believe it or not. FTBS was originally created in 2010 for the Atlanta Beat, a now defunct Women’s Professional Soccer team that featured USWNT stars Hope Solo and Carli Lloyd during their short three-year history. When the club was announced, reports surfaced that FTBS was the first major stadium in the world dedicated to women’s soccer.
The stadium’s current tenants include the Atlanta Blaze, a Major League Lacrosse team, as well as Kennesaw State’s football, women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse teams. FTBS has also played host to international rugby matches, concerts, and festivals.
There are a lot of impressive qualities about FTBS, all of which were likely quite appealing to the Atlanta United front office. First is the pitch itself, a natural grass field that is maintained by Precision Turf, the same company that works on the fields at Atlanta United’s training facility. In fact, the stadium’s field was named “Field of the Year” for both 2015 and 2016 by the Sports Turf Managers Association. This honor is presented to the “most outstanding college, professional, or recreational venue, based on playability, appearance, and utilization of innovative solutions”.
Another terrific characteristic of FTBS is the amount of practice pitches it offers, with six artificial fields and two grass fields. This allows for both teams to have their matchday training and walkthrough’s take place right next to the stadium.
One aspect that supporters will surely love is the seating arrangement within FTBS. Since it was originally a soccer specific stadium, the stands are much closer to the pitch than your average venue. This will make for a very loud and personal atmosphere.
Lastly, a Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta facility is located across the street from the venue, which allows Atlanta United to work with one of their closest partners to potentially host soccer clinics for kids at a few of the many available practice pitches during matchweek, allowing the club to leave their mark on the community in a previously untapped area of metro Atlanta.
Atlanta United will host the Charleston Battery on June 14th at 7:30 p.m. It could be a little awkward, not only because they’re the club affiliate, but because the stands at FTBS are yellow. Regardless though, expect a sea of red and black.
So to solidify one of my first points, yes, I’m biased. However, if this description of the venue eased the minds of any supporters who were skeptical, I’ve done my job. Rest assured, the staff at Fifth/Third Bank Stadium will do their absolute best to make sure the fans of this incredible club are pleased with their experience. This Atlanta United enthusiast is certainly happy to see his two worlds collide.