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U.S. Soccer to build national training center in, move headquarters to Atlanta

The U.S. Soccer Federation has been based in Chicago since 1991

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The United States Soccer Federation announced on Friday plans to build a national training center in Atlanta, where it will relocate its headquarters from its longtime home in Chicago. U.S. Soccer says that the center will be utilized by all 27 national teams, including women, men, youth and extended national teams.

Atlanta United FC owner Arthur Blank has contributed $50 million toward the project. The exact location in Atlanta will be decided on in January, U.S. Soccer said in a press release.

“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,” U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone said. “Investing in youth and adult programs as well as our Extended National Teams reflects our commitment to ensuring that players of all ages and backgrounds can find a home and thrive in this sport. These investments are a signal to our players, coaches, referees, members and fans that the future of U.S. Soccer is bright.” 

Among the major factors for selecting Atlanta as the location are sponsorship opportunities and travel. The Coca-Cola Company was directly referenced by U.S. Soccer as playing “an important role in bringing the Natoinal Training Center to the company’s hometown of Atlanta.” The city is home to many major companies and media outlets, including Turner Sports, the new broadcast rights-holders for U.S. Soccer properties.

Atlanta is also the busiest airport in the world and allows for easy travel for teams and players coming in and out of camp, especially from either the West Coast of the U.S. or from Europe. The Raleigh, North Carolina, area was also considered by U.S. Soccer, but Atlanta’s advantages in airport access, especially, are significant.

U.S. Soccer CEO JT Batson is leading the search for a site in the Atlanta area and being advised by Deloitte. A U.S. Soccer spokesperson said an exact target date for opening the facility is still being discussed.

The training center will be “a central hub for the entire soccer community, including coaches and referees, to access best-in-class training, technology and infrastructure to promote successful and sustainable playing environments throughout the country,” according to U.S. Soccer. There will be locker rooms and training facilities for players. The center will also host youth tournaments and “soccer community conferences,” according to the federation.

“A National Training Center is such an important step forward for U.S. Soccer, most notably for what has been a vital piece of the puzzle, and that’s our youth national teams,” said former U.S. women’s national team player and two-time World Cup champion Julie Foudy.” The importance of youth development cannot be understated or under-supported. Our Youth National Teams need the resources, the time in camps together, and the opportunities for these players to reach their full potential. This training center will be a big lift for this next generation of players to provide an immersive and comprehensive training environment to help our young players excel.”

U.S. Soccer has been based in Chicago since 1991 after previous roots in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The federation established a home base in the South Loop of Chicago at what became known as “Soccer House” internally and to the wider community. In recent years, the federation attempted to require national team coaches to live in and around Chicago, although that policy was quickly relaxed amid ongoing upper management changes. Whether national team coaches will be expected to reside in and around Atlanta in the future is still being discussed, a U.S. Soccer spokesperson told The Equalizer.

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