Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber officially announced Nashville will be awarded an MLS expansion club. Garber made the announcement inside Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame in front of proud fans decked out in gold and blue.
But when will Nashville officially join the league is still undecided. Garber said Nashville could begin play in either 2019 or 2020. Nashville SC makes its USL debut in 2018 at First Tennessee Bank Park.
The other 3 finalists vying for the other expansion spot are Cincinnati, Sacramento and Detroit. MLS wants to give the cities more time, but hopes to announce all four expansion teams before the 2018 season which begins in March.
Garber expressed how impressed he was by Nashville’s bid, their organization and community support.
“Nashville is a rising city with a passionate soccer fan base, a dedicated ownership group and civic leaders that truly believe in this sport,” said Garber. “Nashville continues its ascent as one of America’s most dynamic communities, with its incredible energy and creativity. For us, that makes it a perfect place for MLS expansion.”
John Ingram, the lead owner of the Nashville MLS expansion team, called today’s announcement a “landmark day for Nashville and for all of the loyal and ardent soccer advocates in our state and our region.”
When asked by Garber if he accepts the expansion club on behalf of Nashville, Ingram had only one response: “Damn right we accept it!”
“My dream for this new MLS club is to be Nashville’s club, in the same way Predators and Titans are Nashville’s teams,” said Ingram.
Nashville seemed like a longshot to win a bid when the process officially started in January, but as Nashville Mayor Megan Barry put it, “Music City is soccer city.”
“During the last year, with the support of our partners, the fans, and civic and community leaders, we were able to make a strong case for why Major League Soccer belonged in the great sports town of Nashville,” said Ingram.
Barry singled out The Roadies, Nashville SC’s supporter group, for helping to promote soccer and bringing out large crowds to previous soccer matches in Nashville. The CONCACAF Gold Cup match between the United States and Panama in July drew a crowd of more than 47,000. Fans broke that attendance record just a few weeks later with 56,232 people at Nissan Stadium for a match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League.
“Today is the realization of our dream. A dream that started from a tweet a little over five years ago that went out to people to meet in a bar and to support some guys who weren’t getting paid to play soccer,” said Kyle Mountsier, a member of The Roadies in attendance for the announcement. “We started screaming then and we are still screaming now and will continue to scream long into the future.”
With the addition of Nashville, MLS has added 14 clubs since 2004.
The new expansion team will play in a 27,500-seat soccer stadium at The Fairgrounds Nashville located in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood.