ATLANTA (AP) — The U.S. Soccer Federation is planning to build a national training center in Atlanta with financial support from Arthur Blank.
The USSF announced plans for the training center on Friday. Blank, who owns the Atlanta Falcons and MLS’s Atlanta United, is contributing $50 million for the project. The site for the facility will be selected in January, the USSF said.
“This national training center will accelerate the growth of soccer in this country and will represent a commitment to developing elite soccer players for decades to come,” USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone said in a statement.
The USSF said in 2002 that the complex in Carson, California, would serve as its national training center. While that has been used often for winter training camps, the men’s national team has located training ahead of games at sites more convenient for its matches, such as in Florida ahead of matches in the Caribbean and Central America and near the venues of home games. U.S. Soccer also opened a national development center in Kansas City, Kansas, in 2018.
The federation’s headquarters was in New York, then moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, and has been in Chicago since 1991. The USSF said the new facility will be the training site for all 27 national teams and its headquarters.
“America’s top athletes deserve the best when it comes to preparing them for competition on the global stage and I’m thrilled U.S. Soccer has chosen metro Atlanta as its new home,” Blank said in a statement.
“Atlanta’s incredible passion for soccer, corporate community and unmatched infrastructure make this a natural home for the national training center and I’m very confident our community will help America’s finest soccer players compete on a global level like never before.”
Atlanta’s burgeoning soccer scene, including Atlanta United sellouts at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, was a key to North America’s successful bid for 2026 World Cup.
The funding from Blank, the Home Depot co-founder, will be directed specifically to construction of facilities for U.S. Soccer’s nine extended national teams, including support of the Cerebral Palsy, Deaf and Power national teams.
The USSF says Blank’s contribution also is targeted to women’s youth national team camps, women’s coaching and mentorship initiatives and soccer-focused nonprofits in the Atlanta area. The national training center will be designed to host youth tournaments and soccer community conferences.
“I’m also pleased to help U.S. Soccer with community outreach and soccer development among underserved communities as part of our contribution and know that it will benefit scores of young people through engagement with the beautiful game for generations to come,” Blank said.