MLS All-Star Game headed to Atlanta in 2018
By PAUL NEWBERRY
ATLANTA (AP) Atlanta's new stadium has landed another big event.
Major League Soccer announced Monday that its 2018 All-Star Game will be held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, one day after Atlanta United set records for single-game and season attendance.
"We're honored," United owner Arthur Blank said at a news conference attended by MLS Commissioner Don Garber. "We will not let you down."
Mercedes-Benz Stadium already landed the College Football Playoff championship game, which will be held in January, as well as the 2019 Super Bowl and the men's basketball Final Four in 2020.
"The record is now complete," Mayor Kasim Reed said. "We have this amazing event coming to the city of Atlanta."
The midseason All-Star Game features a squad of the top MLS players against a leading international team, which will be announced later. In this year's game, Real Madrid defeated the MLS on penalty kicks before a sold-out crowd at Chicago's Soldier Field.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Atlanta beat out three other cities for the right to host the game. He declined to name the other bidders, but said United was an obvious choice after the success of its inaugural season.
"I can say without hesitation that the launch of this team is one of the most, if not the most, impressive and successful team launches in the history of professional sports," Garber said.
United averaged 48,200 per game despite having to play the first half of the season at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium because of delays in completing the $1.5 billion stadium near downtown Atlanta. That easily eclipsed the record set two years ago by the league's flagship franchise in Seattle.
United also broke its own single-game record with a crowd of 71,874 for its regular-season finale against Toronto FC on Sunday.
"There was a passion in the city of Atlanta for this sport that has literally woven our city together in a way that I haven't seen before," Reed said. "We are just getting started."
The season isn't over yet.
Atlanta qualified for the playoffs and will host a knockout-round game against Columbus on Thursday night.
"It seems as if everything that they planned early on has come to fruition, including their success on the field," Garber said. "Everything is kind of building in a positive and strong fashion."
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Updated October 23, 2017