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Georgia breaks ground on Fayette-based soccer center

Georgia and United States Soccer leaders broke ground on the Arthur M. Blank U.S. Soccer National Training Center at an April 8 ceremony, kicking off the creation of a 200-acre hub for the country’s 27 teams.

“Growing up in Georgia, I know Atlanta comes together to do big things,” U.S. Soccer CEO JT Batson said at the ceremony.

The state is home to 2018 Major League Soccer champions Atlanta United and set an attendance record on April 6 as the United States Women’s National Team beat Japan at Mercedes Benz.

At the event, U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone announced the facility would be named after businessman Arthur M. Blank, who contributed $50 million to the project. Blank also owns the National Football League team Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer team Atlanta United. The Coca-Cola Company also contributed to the facility.

“This is really not about me, it’s not about us, it is about our values,” Blank said. “It’s about really acknowledging the countless young men and women that have had the opportunity to chase their dreams here.”

The training center is valued at over $200 million and spans more than a dozen soccer fields, 100,000 square feet of indoor courts, 200,000 feet of high-performance facilities, locker rooms, meeting rooms and a headquarters space. It is expected to create 440 new jobs.

The area for all 27 United States soccer teams is expected to open in 2026, the same year that Atlanta is set to host eight matches in the World Cup. Part of the Blank family’s contributions will specifically fund facilities for the Extended National Teams, including the Cerebral Palsy, Deaf and Power Soccer teams.

To Georgia leaders, the move is part of Atlanta’s status as a soccer city. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said that Georgia has a “long and storied sports history,” from hosting the Olympics in 1996 to major franchise teams like the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United.
“Much like Georgia has become the Hollywood of the South, we’re also now the soccer [hub] of the South,” Kemp said.

The facility itself is near Trilith, a master-planned community and Georgia’s largest movie studio in Fayette County. Kemp said the move is part of Metro Atlanta’s continued economic development.

“We’re so good at hosting these events because we have such great assets, but even more importantly, we have great people, and I think that is what makes us unique,” Kemp said.

The governor said each event is a “major economic driver” for the state, made possible by a $1.5 billion investment in Georgia’s highway system and the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport. But the economic incentive is on a timeline: the 2026 World Cup matches.

“We have a lot of work to do to get ready for the World Cup; I mean, we’re already working on the security issues and other things,” Kemp said.
After Atlanta announced the city would be home to eight matches, downtown developments have pushed to prepare for an influx of tourists.

The Gulch announced a 50-acre redevelopment project called Centennial Yards in 2024 that will create a multi-use entertainment district adjacent to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The city also recently opened a hotel, Signia by Hilton Hotels, near the stadium.

“I think its a great opportunity not only for our state, but especially for the city from an entertainment perspective of having that many matches here,” Kemp said.

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