December 27 – Major League Soccer’s latest expansion team franchise has been awarded to an investment group from Nashville, Tennessee. Their team will being MLS play in 2020.
Before then the city and team plan to jointly build a 27,500-seat, $275 million stadium at the fairgrounds a few miles south of downtown. Before that is completed the new club will play in a temporary location, most likely Vanderbilt University.
The Nashville team is not an organic growth of a club from an existing football base, but the establishment of a top tier franchise based on a business model and money from an investment group, Nashville Soccer Holdings, LLC, led by John R. Ingram, the chairman of Ingram Industries.
There are other sports investors in the group with one of Ingram’s partners being the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings owners Mark, Zygi and Leonard Wilf.
Ingram is not completely new to soccer having become the majority owner of Nashville SC in May 2017. That team will begin play in the second tier of the fast expanding United Soccer League (USL) in 2018.
While not having a professional team at any level previously, the city has still hosted a number of showcase matches with including CONCACAF Gold Cup match between the US and Panama in July drawing a crowd of more than 47,000 as we as seeing 56,232 fans attend a game between Premier League giants Manchester City and Spurs in the same month.
“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 MLS commissioner Don 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 and his partners had a plan to bring MLS to Nashville during the last year and they executed it at every level. Thanks to their vision, the soccer fans of Tennessee will soon have their own MLS club and a state-of-the-art soccer stadium that undoubtedly will be a centerpiece of the community.”
Nashville will be the third MLS team in the Southeast of the US, following the recent additions of Orlando City SC (2015) and Atlanta United FC (2017).
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