Women’s pro soccer team possibly coming to Atlanta

Doug Roberson The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

An investment group is considering starting a women’s professional soccer team in Atlanta.

Led by Atlanta native and resident Trey Brantley, the team would play in the National Women’s Soccer League.

Brantley and a team of 15 volunteers have spent more than 1,000 hours of due diligence on the team, which would be named the Atlanta Vibe and would play at Grady Stadium in midtown.

Before they go further, Brantley is asking for soccer supporters to go to www.Atlantavibe.com and fill out a survey that he said will take 30 seconds to complete. The survey will close on Wednesday. Brantley said the results will carry “tremendous weight.”

“We just need Atlanta to tell us that they want this,” he said.

If there is support, Brantley said he would like to try to start the team in 2016, a year ahead of Atlanta’s MLS expansion franchise owned by Arthur Blank. Brantley declined to say if he has had conversations with the NWSL or with any of the teams in the league. An NWSL spokesman said the league is exploring the possibilty of expanding in 2016, but wouldn’t comment on any specific market or ownership group.

Brantley also declined to say how much capital would be needed to start the team, but did say he and the ownership group, which includes Southfund Partners, has enough capital to run the team for three years without any revenue.

Atlanta has a checkered history with women’s professional soccer. The Atlanta Beat twice folded when its league folded, most recently when the Women’s Professional Soccer league ceased operations in 2012. The Atlanta Silverbacks women’s team is operational and plays in the W-League.

The NWSL is composed of nine teams with a schedule that stretches from April through August. The league was founded in 2012 and began play in 2013. The league doesn’t have a team in the Southeast. Playing in the league are U.S. national team standouts Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, Alex Morgan and Heather O’Reilly, among others.

Brantley, 50, got the idea to start the team two years ago when the WPL folded. Brantley, who attended Southern Poly, has spent most of his career in the telecommunications industry. He recently sold his company, which gave him time to devote to the new soccer venture.

His interest in the sport derived from watching a niece play, and now watching his 12-year-old daughter, Emma who is a center back, play. Brantley said he serves on the managemetn committee of Gol Soccer Academy and the board of the Tucker Youth Soccer Association.

“I look at things as ‘who could be her role model?’ ” Brantley said of his daughter. “It’s great to bring in an MLS team, but I want something these girls can strive to do. It shows what a successful player can do.”

The name Vibe came about organically.

During meetings with the volunteers, Brantley said one of the first things they wanted to do was give the team a name, something that captured the vibe of the sport and the city.

As the word vibe was continued to be used to describe the metro Atlanta area, Brantley said it struck him that Vibe should be the team name.