Board meets Thursday to decide if Nashville gets MLS team - WSMV News 4

Board meets Thursday to decide if Nashville gets MLS team

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Artist's rendering of the proposed soccer stadium. (WSMV) Artist's rendering of the proposed soccer stadium. (WSMV)

There's high optimism in the mayor's office as a huge decision is discussed in New York Thursday. What comes out of it will determine if Nashville is selected for a Major League Soccer team.

Some city leaders are rooting for Nashville to get the pick, while others have voiced concern over what happens to the fairgrounds with this huge of a change.

"When this process started a year ago, it was viewed by most people around the country that Nashville really didn't have a good chance at winning one of these first bids," said Sean Braisted, communications director for Mayor Megan Barry.

That was then. Braisted said the outlook of what could be coming to the fairgrounds is very different now.

Nashville is one of four cities, alongside Detroit, Cincinnati and Sacramento, being considered for an MLS expansion team. Only two will be selected at an MLS board of governors meeting in New York Thursday. MLS officials said an announcement of the decision will not be made Thursday and could be several days later.

Braisted said the city believes they can win over the support of the group in New York with their stadium financing package.

"That includes a well-funded, mostly privately funded stadium over at the fairgrounds, as well as a solid ownership group with a strong local foundation," Braisted said. "We think that combined with Nashville's status as the 'it' city and the hot market will help us get one of those two slots opening up."

Just last month, Metro Council approved $225 million in bond funding for the stadium project. Braisted believes the council's involvement will separate Nashville from the group.

He said if Nashville is one of the two selected, there won't be any referendum elections, though the public will be involved through hearings in the Metro Council and fair board. He said decisions will be made about what to do with existing buildings at the fairgrounds to allow them to continue.

"It gives us an opportunity to rebuild those aging facilities to make sure the fair and expo, things like the flea market, are well-preserved going into the future," he said.

A spokesman for MLS2Nashville also weighed in with a statement saying:

We are confident Nashville has made its best case for a team, and we remain optimistic about the city’s prospects. Nashville is a world-class sports town, and there is a great deal of excitement and energy around our bid.

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