A lack of commercial and local government partners, as well as the moribund economy, mean that Atlanta won't be fielding an MLS team in 2011, writes Dan Chapman. But Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who submitted the city's application last October, hasn't ruled out trying for a possible franchise for the city in 2013.
Kim Shreckengost, the chief of staff for Blank's business group, said Thursday that potential partners, including various metro Atlanta governments, couldn't commit to a plan in time for the 2011 season. Meanwhile, all Blank's potential partners -- cities, counties and corporations -- are dealing with cuts in revenue and jobs, meaning that, in Chapman's words, "spending millions on sports would likely raise howls from taxpayers and shareholders."
Blank's foundation and business group itself laid off 10 percent of its workforce in November. Schreckengost said the group told the league in early December that "we didn't think we'd be able to field a team in 2011. We didn't feel we were far enough along with the discussions with various groups to make that commitment." MLS didn't return calls to the paper for comment.