New Atlanta Beat stadium to debut in WPS

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The expansion Atlanta Beat open their new stadium Sunday, May 9 at 7 p.m. as the Beat face 2009 WPS Champions Sky Blue FC in the national television game. The stadium debut will mark the first brand new venue for the two-year old league and the first stadium built specifically for women's soccer in the past decade. In 2002, SAS Soccer Park was unveiled for the Carolina Courage in WUSA -- quickly becoming one of the best small venues for soccer in the country.

Likewise, Atlanta is looking to make the stadium a hub for soccer in the Southeast. The 8,300-seat, $16.5 million stadium was built through a partnership between the Atlanta Beat and Kennesaw State University with private donations and university funds. It will be called the KSU Soccer Stadium and will be the full-time home of the Atlanta Beat while hosting KSU's soccer teams as well. The stadium can also seat 16,000 for concerts.

"Sunday's home opener in Atlanta at KSU Soccer Stadium is one of the biggest moments in the development of our league since we launched last March," said WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci. "Sports-specific stadiums have been crucial to the long-term success and growth of all leagues -- both young and established ones -- and we're incredibly pleased to have one of our own teams build a new stadium in their first year as a team and in the second year overall for WPS."

WPS is following the model of Major League Soccer which began opening soccer-specific stadiums three years into its existence with Columbus Crew Stadium and since then has followed with more soccer-only venues including Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Salt Lake City and Toronto.

The stadium will also be featured as host during the 2010 WPS All-Star Game on June 30.

"It's an exciting time for WPS as the product on the field continues to get better and better this season. We look forward to being back in Atlanta for our 2010 WPS All-Star Game to showcase the world class players in our league at a world class venue. A huge credit to Beat owner T. Fitz Johnson, Kennesaw State University and the Atlanta Beat organization for their accomplishment in getting this new stadium built and ready for this weekend."