Nashville MLS team Article

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Nashville
FoundedDecember 20, 2017; 10 months ago (2017-12-20)
Stadium Nashville Fairgrounds Stadium
Capacity27,500
Owner John Ingram (lead investor)
Zygi Wilf
Mark Wilf
Leonard Wilf
CEO Ian Ayre
League Major League Soccer

The Nashville MLS team will be a Major League Soccer expansion franchise that is expected to begin play in 2020. The club will be based in Nashville, Tennessee, and plans to play their home matches at the Nashville Fairgrounds at a planned 27,500-seat soccer-specific stadium.

History

Soccer in Nashville

Prior to the arrival of Nashville's MLS team, the city had various soccer teams that played in the lower divisions of American soccer. The most notable teams were the Nashville Metros who played from 1989 until 2012 and Nashville FC, who played in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) from 2013 to 2016. The city also hosts two NCAA Division I men's soccer teams, the Belmont Bruins and Lipscomb Bisons. Prior to these teams, the Nashville Diamonds participated in the then-second division, American Soccer League for one season in 1982. [1]

The NPSL team, Nashville FC, was founded by a supporters group that intended to form a team as a fan-owned group. Chris Jones, Nashville FC's president, cited existing fan-owned clubs as inspiration for NFC's foundation, in particular the English club F.C. United of Manchester. [2] In February 2014, the two groups merged to form a single club for the 2014 NPSL season. The club had two teams participating in the Middle Tennessee Soccer Alliance, Nashville's largest competitive adult league, and had partnered with the Tennessee State Soccer Association (TSSA), an organization with over 20,000 registered players in the Middle Tennessee area alone. [3] The team played its matches at Vanderbilt Stadium. [4] The NPSL club had ambitions of climbing the American Soccer Pyramid, with the reported target an entry into the third-tier United Soccer League (USL) by 2017, [5] and then ascension into the Division II North American Soccer League by 2020. [2] However, in 2016, the USL awarded a franchise to a separate ownership group in Nashville. Nashville FC subsequently sold its team name, logo, and color scheme to the new USL franchise, which became known as Nashville SC, in exchange for a 1 percent equity stake in the USL team and a voting seat on its board. [6]

Expansion bid

In August 2016, a group of Nashville business leaders from several of the city's largest corporations formed the Nashville MLS Organizing Committee and began efforts to secure funding for an MLS stadium. [7] The group, led by Bill Hagerty, sought an MLS team immediately rather than working up the soccer pyramid. The group fully supported the recently awarded USL expansion team, Nashville SC, which began play in 2018. Both groups supported each other in their common vision to grow the sport in Tennessee. [8] In October 2017, the group unveiled their plans for $275 million stadium and redevelopment project, [9] [10] which was approved by the city in November. [11]

The formal bid to add an MLS franchise to Nashville began in January 2017. On March 4, 2017, businessman John Ingram, under the entity Nashville Holdings LLC, bought a majority stake in DMD Soccer, the ownership group of Nashville SC. [12] Ingram also headed up the bid to bring an MLS franchise to Nashville, [13] and the partnership between Ingram and Nashville SC was an effort to present a united front to MLS after Nashville was named one of ten finalist cities for four MLS franchises. [14] In August 2017, Mark Wilf, Zygi Wilf and Leonard Wilf joined as investors. [15]

On December 19, 2017, news broke that Nashville would be awarded an expansion slot. [16] The announcement was made official on December 20, 2017, when it was confirmed that the club would join MLS in 2020. [17]

On May 21, 2018, Ian Ayre was announced as the CEO of the franchise. [18]

On October 30, 2018, Mike Jacobs was announced as the general manager of the franchise. [19]

Stadium

A 27,500-seat soccer-specific stadium at the Nashville Fairgrounds is planned to be the team's home when it opens in 2021. [20] The $275 million stadium will be mostly funded by revenue bonds from the Nashville government, per an agreement with the Nashville Metro Council that was approved in November 2017. [21] The council approved the stadium on September 4, 2018, with the votes 31-yes and 8-no, with a crowd in the room of supporters and opponents in the audience. A referendum for "partial funding" was rejected by the council, with the votes 25-yes (to reject the referendum) and 12-no (to permit). [22]

References

  1. ^ "1982 Nashville Diamonds". FunWhileItLasted.net. July 30, 2012. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Barker, Matthew (February 25, 2015). "Fan-owned Nashville FC under threat from US franchise: Club ownership model a rarity among US sports teams". When Saturday Comes. Archived from the original on February 25, 2015. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  3. ^ "NASHVILLE ATLAS FC JOINS THE NPSL". nationalpremiersoccerleague.com. National Premier Soccer League. Archived from the original on October 23, 2013. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  4. ^ Boyer, E.J. (May 27, 2014). "Nashville FC soccer club draws crowd in first home opener, eyes Greer Stadium". The Business Journals. Archived from the original on March 5, 2015. Retrieved May 30, 2014.
  5. ^ Itel, Dan (July 29, 2015). "Supporter-owned FC Nashville looking to make jump up soccer pyramid". mlssoccer.com. Major League Soccer. Archived from the original on January 31, 2016. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
  6. ^ "USL Formally Welcomes Nashville to League". United Soccer League. July 1, 2016. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
  7. ^ "Tennessee legislature proposes bill to help fund Nashville MLS stadium", MLS Soccer, December 19, 2016.
  8. ^ "Nashville business leaders form group to bring MLS to the Music City", MLS Soccer, August 9, 2016.
  9. ^ "Soccer stadium backers detail redevelopment plans". Nashville Post. October 23, 2017.
  10. ^ "Nashville soccer fans come out in force for $275M MLS stadium proposal". The Tennessean. October 24, 2017.
  11. ^ "Nashville MLS expansion bid gets boost from $275m stadium approval". ESPN. November 8, 2017.
  12. ^ Garrison, Joey (May 4, 2017). "John Ingram buys majority stake in Nashville SC, aligning efforts for MLS bid". The Tennessean. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  13. ^ Garrison, Joey (December 20, 2016). "Businessman John Ingram to lead Nashville's Major League Soccer bid". The Tennessean. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  14. ^ Garrison, Joey (December 15, 2016). "Nashville among 10 cities under consideration for four MLS expansion teams". The Tennessean. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  15. ^ Garrison, Joey (August 8, 2017). "Wilf family, owners of the Minnesota Vikings, joins Nashville's MLS ownership group". The Tennessean. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  16. ^ Straus, Brian (December 19, 2017). "MLS Announces Nashville Event Where it's Expected to Accept Expansion Bid". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  17. ^ Rosano, Nicholas (December 20, 2017). "Nashville awarded MLS expansion club". MLSSoccer.com. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  18. ^ "Former Liverpool chief Ian Ayre to head up Nashville MLS outfit". SportsPro Media. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  19. ^ SC, Nashville (October 30, 2018). "Nashville MLS Appoints First General Manager". Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  20. ^ Prince-Right, Joe (September 5, 2018). "Nashville's $275 million MLS stadium approved". Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  21. ^ Garrison, Joey (November 7, 2017). "Nashville Metro Council approves financing for $275M MLS stadium project". The Tennessean. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  22. ^ "Nashville MLS stadium project wins final Metro Council approval". The Tennessean. Retrieved September 5, 2018.