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Atlanta group gauging market for NWSL team

It all came to Trey Brantley about two years ago, before the National Women’s Soccer League even kicked off in an actual game. Women’s professional soccer was making its third go at a league, and unlike the first two attempts, Atlanta wasn’t involved.

Inspired by his 12-year-old, soccer-playing daughter, Atlanta native Brantley got in touch with John Smithgall, the president of Atlanta-based real estate investment company Southfund Partners, about starting an NWSL team in Atlanta.

“It really made sense to combine something I really enjoy with something that Atlanta really needs,” Brantley said.

[MORE: Atlanta group declares interest in NWSL expansion team]

The pair, along with their staff, have been researching and planning since then and this week they went public with their intent to bring a women’s team to Atlanta.

“I think the city will support it and that’s what we are looking for, is confirmation that we are right,” Brantley said.

That interest is being gauged through a short online survey. Brantley says he is looking for about 3,000 responses in the next week, with 1,000 positive responses from people stating that they would purchase season tickets at an average price of $178 for an 11-game home schedule. The proposed home is Grady Stadium, a 6,500-seat high school turf football stadium in midtown Atlanta, close to the famous Piedmont Park.

Brantley says the stadium is close to public transportation and within walking distance of shops and restaurants, unlike Kennesaw State University Stadium, which hosted the Atlanta Beat in WPS in 2010 and 2011. KSU is located about 25 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta. The Beat also played in the WUSA from 2001-03, first at Georgia Tech in 2001 and then Herndon Stadium the next two years.

The organization is working under the name the Atlanta Vibe — a name they think captures the feel of Atlanta’s culture — and could potentially start playing in 2016 if they get the right response from the Atlanta community. The name “Vibe” came about after the group continued to use the work in a meeting to discuss the team name. Brantley said they didn’t want to be nameless when they go public.

Brantley declined to say whether or not he has spoken to league officials, and the NWSL had no comment on potential expansion.

Since the survey’s launch on Tuesday, the group of potential investors has heard from fans as far away as Birmingham, Ala., Brantley said.


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