The Marietta City Council approved a preliminary contract Wednesday that would lease 32 acres along Franklin Road to the Atlanta United Football Club for a practice facility.
A previous deal with DeKalb County that ended abruptly last week included plans for a small stadium and the team’s corporate headquarters. In Marietta, there wouldn’t be a stadium, but the team headquarters would still be part of the agreement.
Mayor Steve Tumlin said the deal is a good one for the Major League Soccer team.
In it, Atlanta United FC pays $1 a year for the first 10 years, and it’s required to “use its best efforts to invest a minimum of $40 million in the property by 2017.”
The City Council debated that language, but city attorney Doug Haynie told them Atlanta United FC attorneys said “they would not sign the agreement” if it was made more binding.
The council isn’t certain how much revenue the plan would bring to the city.
Tumlin said they have not conducted a formal study on the matter, but he and some members of the council didn’t seem concerned about the economic effect on the city.
“Their team is so amazing. We are relying on them rather than paying a consultant $13,000 to tell us probably what is more than reasonably expected,” Tumlin said.
Right next to the facility and the team’s corporate offices, the city plans to sell 18 acres of land for restaurants, hotels and other businesses.
Darren Eales, president of Atlanta United FC, said the practice facility is important to future player development.
“We need to try to create homegrown players to play in Atlanta’s first team,” he said.
Tumlin and other members of the City Council, along with Eales, focused on the effect the facility and surrounding development would have on the community in the area.
“Our training sessions, we’re going to try to make them as open as possible so that people can drop by and watch the team training. A father can come with his son when it’s the holidays, and they can actually see their heroes playing,” Eales said.
He said the practice facility the organization plans to build will be world class. And he hopes families in the area will come watch international teams train when they visit.
“Barcelona, Manchester United, when national teams come like Mexico and the USA. The plan would be that they practice at our facility,” he said.
Eales has previously served in management at Tottenham Hotspur, a successful team in the English Premier League.
The City Council expects to vote on a final version of the contract in December.