ATLANTA -- As 68,000 soccer fans filled the Georgia Dome with enthusiastic cheers Wednesday night, Arthur Blank was entertaining Don Garber, the commissioner of Major League Soccer in his suite during most of the scoreless match between Mexico and Nigeria.
It was not a casual sporting event for either of them. Blank, the owner of the Atlanta Falcons; and Garber are closing in on a deal for Blank to become a new franchise owner for a MLS team that would play in the new Falcons stadium that is supposed to open before the 2017 football season.
The sold-out Mexico-Nigeria match - a prelude the 2014 World Cup in Brazil - was yet another indicator of whether Atlanta would welcome professional soccer.
"You look at the crowd, and you see the spirit that's here," Blank said during a 10-minute sit-down interview in his suite during the game. "It is a great tribute to Atlanta and the appetite that Atlanta has for soccer at the highest level.