By Aaron Castete
Recently the Atlanta Havoc of the American Arena League announced they'd be leaving Buford, Georgia , which is located about an hour from the center of Atlanta, and that they'd be moving to Florence, South Carolina. With the Havoc's move to a new city, Atlanta is now a wide open market for the National Arena League to add to their high caliber league. Before the Atlanta Havoc formed, there was rumors that the NAL could have been looking into the Atlanta/Gwinnett area, but backed off when the Havoc came about.
In a business standpoint, the city of Atlanta would geographically fit perfect in the mix of the teams on the East Coast. Also National Sports Ventures LLC, which owns the Carolina Cobras and the Maine Mammoths of the NAL, is based in Atlanta. Could the National Sports Ventures group add a team in the city they are based in? It would be a logical move for the group.
Atlanta is a perfect market for the game of arena football. With the NAL rapidly growing and having so much success, a market like Atlanta would only help them grow even more. In the past, the AFL had a franchise called the Georgia Force in Gwinnett (a suburb area of ATL). The Force played in the Arena at the Infinite Energy Center from 2002-2008 and 2011-2012. The team's ownership used an excuse to the team suspending operations citing: "Atlanta is simply not a football town". The statement made was very untrue and fans new it. The NFL's Atlanta Falcons are such a very successful team, the Georgia Tech football program is improving, youth football is gaining interest; the city of Atlanta is for sure a football town!
The Havoc failed for many reasons, one being their small town not in Atlanta:
You may be wondering why should the NAL go to this market if there was recently an AAL team there. Well here's the thing, the Atlanta Havoc technically didn't play in the City of Atlanta, they played an whole hour away from Atlanta actually! The games were played in a small town named Buford, Georgia in a 3000 seat high school venue. The small market posed many issues for the team as they struggled with money and attendance. First off if a team wanted to be successful in the long run, extensive marketing would have been done, and a better venue in a higher populated location would have been chosen.
What venues could be potential homes for a NAL team?:
If the NAL does come to Atlanta, there are two venues where the sport of arena football could be extremely successful., they are the Phillips Arena (home of the NBA Atlanta Hawks) or the Infinite Energy Center.
The Phillips Arena can hold 18, 545 for arena football, whereas the Infinite Energy Center can hold 11, 355, Financially, the Infinite Energy Center would be way less expensive for the NAL to choose from, yet the venue is 42 minutes from the heart of downtown. Even though Gwinnett is almost an hour from Atlanta, it is a market that has proven it can support teams, draw crowds, and be successful, whereas Buford's small populated city could not. Gwinnett county has a great successful population of sports fans who support a minor league baseball team, minor league hockey team, and a professional arena lacrosse team. All signs point toward the success of another arena football team in Atlanta, and it hopefully will be a matter of time before the NAL compromises on the opportunity at hand.