Atlanta’s hottest club is the Golden Era Pop-Up Experience.
This place has everything: a long line of people waiting in the rain to get beyond the velvet rope, more gold interior flourishes than Goldmember’s lair or Donald Trump’s bathroom, a DJ spinning Outkast and Ludacris, an artist plying their trade in the corner for all to see, and an infinity mirror box for the hottest influencers—and schlubby bloggers like me—to enjoy.
And for once in my life, I had VIP access.
Right away, it was clear that like everything this club does, the Five Stripes went big with their marketing of the new white and gold “King Kit.” The kits almost felt secondary at the event, with a handful of them hanging on the wall near the check out area. The canned description beside the display described them as “dripping swagger and illuminating royalty with all gold everything.” (That’s branding speak for, “We’re better than you and we know it.”)
Everything at the event exuded arrogance, which for me was a bit jarring as questions swirl among the fans about the team’s offseason transactions. Yes, we’ve signed a few solid players, but we’ve lost many of the club’s most beloved players who at times we treated like they were members of the royal family. We’re still waiting anxiously for a big signing to anchor the center of the midfield.
But none of this angst was apparent, either among the club staff or the fans, who were lining up to take photos with the silverware won over the last three seasons.
No one was brasher than team President Darren Eales.
“With the gold, we like a bit of swagger at Atlanta United and we’re Kings of the South, we’re the royalty,” Eales said. “We win the trophies. I think it’s something that speaks to our confidence as a club.
“In our first 3 seasons, we got the most wins, the most points, it’s just pretty incredible as a new team. Most goals of any team in our first three years. That’s a great foundation, but we’ve always spoken about that, we’re not shy, we’re not bashful. I think that goes to this kit and our swagger. We want to be winning trophies, competing for trophies.”
Sure, the club deserves to gloat a bit. After all, it’s experienced a Golden Age of sorts as one of the most successful expansion clubs in MLS history. But the next few weeks and months will tell us if all of this was empty bluster or just the well-earned bravado of a top MLS club.