Atlanta set to land 5th pro sports franchise in new MLS expansion team

Soccer fans get ready.{} Major League Soccer may be coming to Atlanta.

Major League Soccer, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed have planned a "major announcement" for Wednesday regarding a proposed expansion team to play in the city's new downtown stadium.

Blank, who has long coveted a top-level soccer team for the city, has been in intense negotiations with MLS, and talks escalated ever more after Atlanta announced a deal to build a $1 billion stadium next to the Georgia Dome. Site preparation has already started, and the facility is expected to open in 2017.

Both the MLS and a top official from Blank's organization acknowledged last week that the two sides were close to a deal.

Blank, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and the mayor are scheduled to attend the 5 p.m. news conference.

If MLS does come to Atlanta, it will come as great news for soccer fans in Birmingham. Currently, the closest professional soccer team to the Magic City is 570 miles away in Columbus, Ohio followed by Dallas and Houston, which are both over 600 miles from Birmingham. {}