There were 55,297 loud, rambunctious fans at Atlanta United FC's inaugural game on Sunday night.
Bobby Dodd Stadium was filled to capacity, and Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber couldn't believe it.
When the sell out was announced prior to Sunday's game, team owner Arthur Blank said Garber was skeptical.
"The commissioner texted me three times this week. He didn't believe the numbers," Blank said. "He said, 'Are you sure you've got the right numbers? Are you sure you're going to fill that place?' "
The numbers were right, and Blank never doubted the first game would sell out.
"Did I ever think it? Yes I did. I have great confidence in Atlanta," he said. "I think they have confidence that we're going to put a winning product on the field and that we will create the kind of connections with our fan base that they expect of us."
Atlanta United FC is still counting how many season tickets they have sold. Blank said Sunday the number is "well north of 30,000." That's the most season tickets sold by an MLS expansion team, and second-most in the league this season only behind the Seattle Sounders, who won the MLS Cup last season.
"I love the NFL, and I love the Atlanta Falcons fans. I couldn't love them more. But soccer fans take it to the next level," Blank said. "To see the enthusiasm of our fans and their commitment, their passion for the game and our team, Atlanta United, it just makes my heart feel really good. I know that sounds like a hokey thing, but it's kinda how I feel."
Atlanta United FC lost their first game 2-1 after the New York Red Bulls rallied late in the game.
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