Atlanta United FC was named Sports Team of The Year and Mercedes-Benz Stadium was honored as Sports Facility of the Year at the 12th annual Sports Business Awards on Wednesday night. These honors, which were announced at the Sports Business Journal event, recognize excellence in sports over the past year and were bestowed among the who's who in sports at a gala event at the New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square.
After bursting on the scene of Major League Soccer in record-breaking style in 2017, the unprecedented rise of Atlanta United has made the world take notice. In only its second year, Atlanta United became the youngest team to win the MLS Cup since 1998. The club has quite literally changed the game for MLS, creating a new model for roster building, becoming the highest scoring team in MSL history, consistently drawing record-number crowds and creating incredible demand in the city of Atlanta.
"We are truly honored to be named the 'Sports Team of the Year' by the Sports Business Awards," Atlanta United President Darren Eales said. "To be named a finalist two years in a row amongst some of the top sports organizations in North America is a direct reflection of the amazing support we receive from our fans and the city of Atlanta. The award is especially meaningful this year as it not only celebrates our historic 2018 season, but also the efforts of our organization off-the-pitch. We launched this club with the intention of becoming a global brand and we accept this award with great pride knowing that we've taken another step toward that goal."
Home to the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United, Mercedes-Benz Stadium was one of the industry's most anticipated stadiums. MBS opened its doors to high acclaim for its forward-thinking design, revolutionary fan experience, state-of-the-art technology, industry-leading sustainability initiatives, award-winning food and beverage experience, and game-changing positive effect on the surrounding neighborhoods. Inspiring awe among the sports and entertainment world, MBS has set new standards and trends across the industry.
"Arthur's vision was to build a one-of-a-kind stadium in the heart of Atlanta, one that would change the game in every way possible," noted Steve Cannon, CEO of AMB Group. "We set out to create an experience unlike any other with a complete focus on doing right by our fans and guests. We are proud of the experience we are delivering at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and are humbled to be recognized with such an esteemed honor."
The vision for this stadium was to routinely host the biggest events on a national and global scale. Since opening in August 2017, the stadium has hosted the 2019 Super Bowl, the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and Kickoff Games, SEC Championships, the 2018 MLS Cup Championship, an MLS All-Star game, and numerous concerts. Mercedes-Benz Stadium will host the NCAA Men's Final Four in 2020 and is a candidate host venue for the 2026 FIFA Men's World Cup.
Played in Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this past February, Super Bowl LIII has been lauded by many as one of the best Super Bowls in NFL's history. Hosting more than 500,000 people throughout a 10-day period, Atlanta quickly shined for its welcoming hospitality, walkable footprint and amazing venues. Super Bowl LIII activities showcased the rich history and culture of its host city and shined a light on some of the NFL's key initiatives including social justice and human rights.