MLS announces expansion team coming to Nashville - WSMV News 4

MLS announces expansion team coming to Nashville

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MLS Commissioner Dan Garber, L, and Jon Ingram at Wednesday's announcement. (WSMV) MLS Commissioner Dan Garber, L, and Jon Ingram at Wednesday's announcement. (WSMV)
Artist's rendering of the proposed MLS stadium in Nashville. (Source: MLS2Nashville) Artist's rendering of the proposed MLS stadium in Nashville. (Source: MLS2Nashville)

It's official. Nashville is getting a Major League Soccer expansion team.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber made the announcement at a press conference at the Country Music Hall of Fame on Wednesday afternoon. He was joined by Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and John Ingram, who will be one of the owners of the team.

The city announced plans to build a new stadium at the Fairgrounds Nashville. The Metro Council approved $225 million in bond funding for the proposed soccer stadium.

“Nashville is a rising city with a passionate soccer fan base, a dedicated ownership group and civic leaders that truly believe in this sport,” Garber said in a statement. “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.”

“It’s a time to give. It’s a time to receive. And Nashville is receiving the best present ever. We are getting a Major League Soccer team,” Barry said.

Nashville will be the 24th team to join the league. When the team will play its first game is yet to be determined.

The team will likely play one season at Nissan Stadium before moving to a new stadium at the Fairgrounds.

Click here to watch the full press conference.

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The MLS2Nashville’s bid for a franchise was an underdog among the 12 cities that applied for a team. After last week’s Board of Governor’s meeting, it appears Nashville will be one of the two cities chosen.

There were a lot of factors in the past year that helped Nashville’s bid for the team.

Among the factors for Nashville receiving a team were record-breaking crowds for national and international soccer matches at Nissan Stadium last summer and the Nashville Predators’ historic playoff run highlighting the energy of the city.

Jonathan Slape leads a local chapter of U.S. soccer supporter. He believes the franchise will change Music City.

“We’re already seen as a destination city, but then to see what’s going to be a world-class team and a world-class stadium come to Nashville is just huge,” said Slape.

The MLS had announced it would be choosing two soccer teams from a group of four cities: Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville and Sacramento.

The plan to build the stadium at the Fairgrounds has been controversial. The plan includes 10 acres of housing, retail and office space.

Councilman Colby Sledge said the soccer stadium will be huge for the economy.

“I think the Fairgrounds has got great uses as it is, but to really create this hub for the district and for south Nashville will be very exciting,” said Sledge.

A lower division soccer franchise called Nashville Soccer Club will begin playing at First Tennessee Park in March. The MLS team would start playing in 2019 or 2020.

If the MLS soccer stadium is built, many wonder how that will affect what’s currently at the Nashville Fairgrounds.

Currently plans call for moving the monthly flea market buildings and booths to the outer ring of the Fairgrounds.

The Flea Market Vendors Association said it is not getting assurances the monthly flea market wouldn’t be canceled if there are conflicts with soccer games or if there will be space for all the vendors.

“We are 100 percent committed to working with the existing uses at the Fairground,” said Darden Copeland, a consultant with the MLS2Nashville committee.

Click here to read the Fairgrounds Nashville's statements regarding Wednesday's announcement.

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