Nashville lands MLS expansion

21 Dec 2017

The city of Nashville in Tennessee has been awarded Major League Soccer’s (MLS) latest expansion franchise.

MLS commissioner Don Garber confirmed the news at a press conference alongside Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and John Ingram, who will lead the franchise’s ownership group, Nashville Soccer Holdings.

The franchise is expected to start playing in MLS in 2020, with Nashville SC set to feature in the second-tier United Soccer League next year.

Nashville Soccer Holdings will include Ingram, who is the chairman of Ingram Industries and the Wilf family, which owns the Minnesota Vikings NFL American football franchise.

“We will have a team that everyone can be proud of and we will take a leadership role in enhancing the growth of the sport in a region that already has a passionate soccer culture,” Ingram said. “Nashville is going to be a very worthy addition to MLS.”

The team will play at a 27,500-seat stadium, with the Metro Nashville City Council having approved $225m (€190m) in revenue bonds for the venue, as well as an additional $50m in bonds for renovations and improvements around the site. The stadium could open in time for the 2021 season.

Garber said that the “great ownership and a great stadium plan” made the Nashville proposition a “perfect match”.

Nashville had been in contention with Cincinnati in Detroit and Sacramento in California for two expansion franchises, taking the total number of teams to 25.

Sacramento has been widely tipped to land the next expansion franchise in the coming weeks.

“They (Sacramento) have some things to finalise with their ownership that I think would make them optimum,” Garber said. “We’ve said for many years there’s a great level of support for the game in Sacramento and I think there’s great interest in joining Major League Soccer.”

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