0

A welcomed return of the Georgia Force

The Georgia Force returned to Gwinnett on Saturday with pomp and circumstance and a national TV audience. The latter is why it's nice to have Arthur Blank doing business in your county.

Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons as well as the Force, has brought his Arena Football League team back to the Arena at Gwinnett Center. And it's a welcomed return, adding to the county's collection of sports teams.

After moving downtown to Philips Arena, the Force are back in Duluth, giving the county a professional football presence to go with minor league hockey and, starting next year, minor league baseball.

That Blank is also considering Gwinnett as the future home to the Major League Soccer franchise he is seeking speaks well of where the county has positioned itself as a destination for businesses, both sports and otherwise.

"There are a lot of wonderful dynamics taking place in Gwinnett County," Blank said in a sit-down interview with the Daily Post. "I think growth fuels opportunity ... For me it's a growth county and it's an exciting place to be."

That's a feeling shared by the Gwinnett Gladiators, the county's hockey franchise. And county officials think Gwinnett's future Triple-A baseball team will feel the same way.

The Gladiators are well established, drawing more than a million fans in their five years of existence, and now Blank is joining Gwinnett's pro sports group with the Atlanta Braves bringing their farm team to town in 2009. Those are some heavy hitters, which bodes well not only for Gwinnett sports fans, but the county itself.

"(Gwinnett) is the right kind of demographics; people are moving here for the right reasons," Blank said. "It's a good, solid school system. There are lots of reasons why people really feel comfortable there. And obviously we think we can be successful there."

Like Blank's team, Gwinnett is also proving itself to be a force.